Melvin Gordon's career trajectory has been exactly what you want from a young player.
He made a monumental leap between his first two years, following up a self-described disappointing rookie year with a breakout 2016 season in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl.
However, the bruising 6-1, 215-pounder really took his game to new heights in 2017.
Last year, Gordon became the first Charger to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing since Ryan Mathews in 2013. In fact, his 1,105 rushing yards ranked seventh in the league while his 1,581 total yards from scrimmage ranked fifth. In addition, his 80 total first downs were the third-most in the NFL while his 72 total points ranked fourth among non-kickers.
Thus, it's only natural to wonder what Gordon has in store for year four.
The fact that he stated he feels even stronger right now than he did last year certainly bodes well.
"I'm feeling good," he said. "Feeling a lot stronger around this time than I did last year. So that's the positive thing about that. Looking forward to it being a big year, not only for me, but the team with the way we finished."
Gordon dealt with nagging injuries all year long, which is why Head Coach Anthony Lynn noted that he planned to monitor the 25-year old's knee this offseason. A true competitor, Gordon admitted he may have pushed himself too hard at times last year, so he's all on board with Lynn's plan throughout the spring and summer.
"I did (push too hard), especially this early (in the offseason)," he said. "(With) new coaches, I wanted to prove a point and show them why I'm the guy. That you are the guy. So, (I pushed myself) a little bit too much I feel like. I'm just trying to be smarter this time."
Entering his fourth year also means a new role for the running back as the unit's veteran leader.
Gordon had always had someone with more experience in the room with him, but now, he's the elder statesman.
Having thrived in that role at Wisconsin, he's eagerly embracing the opportunity.
"You've been there before, obviously in college," he said. You approach it the same way. Danny (Woodhead), he kind of showed the ropes. (Branden Oliver) wasn't bad, either. BO showed great leadership in different ways. But you obviously take notes from those guys when you're in that position, because everybody was a young guy at some point. And you're an older guy at some point as well. So you take notes from the older guys so you know how to handle it when you're the oldest guy in the room."
One role Gordon covets is being the bell-cow back.
While he understands the need for complementary players at the position, he isn't shy about his desire to carry the load.
"I don't have a problem (sharing touches)," he said. "I used to share with James White. We split carries literally down the middle. And then that last year (in college), I got a taste of what it feels like to be the workhorse. So you enjoy it a little bit. You get a rhythm. And then my second year (here), everybody got hurt unfortunately. Being a workhorse, it comes with good feelings. When you get to the second half of the game, you run that run three or four times. I know where to hit it. When you're switching, it's hard to get in a rhythm. But it saves you at the end of the day having another back to complement you."
One new teammate who Gordon believes will help take his game to another level no matter how many touches he receives is Mike Pouncey. In fact, he was hellbent on recruiting the center once he became a free agent.
"I was so happy about that! I hit him up before we signed him. I said, 'Bro, come through bro! Come block for my man!' So that's cool. I hear nothing but good things about him as far as leadership. One of the biggest things I've heard is he's a dog. He's nasty. I like that more than anything. So, I'm excited to work with him, get that feel for him. I know Phil's excited about it, especially, so I feel like we can be real special with Mike with him bringing that leadership and nastiness."
Take a look at the top shots from Melvin Gordon's 2017 season.