Where did Chargers’ 2020 rookie class rank in productivity?

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Gavino Borquez
·2 min read
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The 2020 season is in the rearview, but it’s never a bad thing to reflect on the past.

Pro Football Focus ranked the production of each rookie class this past season, and the Chargers fared well.

Los Angeles was among the best, finishing sixth.

Why they’re ranked here: Quarterback Justin Herbert (No. 6 overall) was the only Chargers rookie to make a massive impact right away and ranked 14th in WAR generated in 2020. The second of their two first-round picks, linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., was subpar at best and earned just a 55.4 PFF grade as a starter, ranking 45th of 88 qualifying off-ball linebackers. Nine other rookies from Day 3 and the UDFA pool played for L.A. but all combined for negative WAR.

How their top pick fared: There were some doubts about Herbert’s ability to immediately produce for the Chargers, but he silenced the critics convincingly in Year 1. Herbert earned a 78.6 passing grade through the regular season, tying for 12th in the NFL and ranking as the sixth-best mark we have ever recorded from a rookie. However, his performance was fairly reliant on plays under pressure — his 75.4 grade under pressure was actually the best in the NFL — which is slightly concerning given that play under duress is extremely volatile from year to year.

A big reason why the Bolts were among the top-10 was because of presences of first-round picks quarterback Justin Herbert and linebacker Kenneth Murray.

In only his second game as a pro, Herbert was thrusted into the starting role against the Chiefs after a team doctor accidentally punctured QB Tyrod Taylor’s lung.

It was then when greatness was born.

The former Oregon product finished with 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, breaking multiple records along the way and coming up only 38 yards shy of passing the rookie passing yard record held by Andrew Luck.

Herbert is currently the front-runner to win the prestigious Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Meanwhile, Murray recorded 107 tackles, three passes defended and one sack in his rookie season. The former Oklahoma product experienced growing pains right off the bat, but he made consistent growth week in and week out.

As for the rest of the class, there wasn’t much production.

Running back Joshua Kelley had spurts of dominance, but he was inconsistent, which resulted in him becoming a backup to Justin Jackson and Kalen Ballage as the season went on.

Wide receivers Joe Reed and K.J. Hill didn’t have many opportunities to prove themselves. Reed was relegated to a return specialist and Hill was out-snapped by Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson.

Safety Alohi Gilman was primarily a special teamer and didn’t receive playing time on defense until near the end of the season.