With the 183rd pick of the 2011 NFL draft the San Diego Chargers picked a small framed running back out of the University of Connecticut. Jordan Todman is a back with a frame similar to Darren Sproles, the free agent running back who left the Chargers to go play for the New Orleans Saints in the off season.
He is 5’-9” and weighs 193 pounds, not the size that one would call a bruiser by any means. Todman is a shifty runner who was a unanimous pick for last season’s Big East offensive player of the year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, as well as other honors.
While he has the size that is comparable to Sproles, he seems to have a mentality that is a closer fit with Full Back Mike Tolbert and Lorenzo Neal. Todman has a reputation for initiating contact in the open field. This young man loves to finish off a run with a hit. Some scouts have listed that as a liability, indicating that with his frame he may be heading towards an injury in the NFL.
Todman is a fast, elusive runner who finds the holes and hits them fast. This will benefit him if he is called upon to fill the role of the 3rd Running Back, or even the 3rd down back for the Chargers. One common criticism of the Chargers offensive line is that they are better at pass protection than they are at run blocking. So a back who hits the available hole quickly and decisively could be a real benefit to the offense. However Todman is not an experienced receiver and hitting the running backs out of the back field with a short pass is a staple of the Chargers offense. The coaching staff has been working on Todman’s receiving skills in camp.
The work seems to be paying off, in his first professional game; preseason against the Seattle Seahawks Todman caught all 4 passes for 21 yards, he added six carries for 30 yards and showed the ability to run inside between the numbers. He was the Chargers leading rusher on the evening. Take it for what it is worth, Preseason is rarely a good yardstick for how well a player will do, but it is the place where a rookie, hungry to make the team has to catch the eye of the coaching staff.
What I find impressive is that he is picking up the schemes and showing improvement in a lockout shortened off season. He had no minicamps, or off season meetings to get this. That tells me that he is a quick study, and willing to work hard to make the team. We can point to NFL history to show where players like Steve Tasker, Tim Dwight, and Daren Sproles, though not physically large men made an impact for their team, driven by determination and spirit.
When I was at Chargers training camp, several people spoke of how Todman had impressed them for his speed and ability to pick up the offense. Some even said that he would be the ‘surprise’ player of the camp.
We all know based on the recent history of the Chargers being a late round draft pick does not guarantee you a position on the team. If you can make a spot for yourself on Special teams you have a chance. Todman is known as a shifty returner, and right now that spot is open. He has been getting some work with the special teams in camp.
Christopher Smith, of Chargers.com wrote an excellent article discussing Todman (http://www.chargers.com/news/article-1/Todman-pushing-for-role/3ccd5895-6aff-4deb-abda-4aa1cf661ad0), and in it he made the point that the role of the 3rd running back in Hewad Coach Norv Turner’s system has been growing. Last season the 3rd back touched the ball 109 times. Todman has a shot to fill that role. There are six other running backs on the current roster. Todman is not a shoe in yet, but has definitely caught the eye of the coaching staff. He now has to use the remaining three preseason games to make a strong case for being on the 53 man roster come September.
Good luck Jordan, keep up the good work!