Chargers RB coach Ollie Wilson says Melvin Gordon a hard worker, ahead of schedule

SAN DIEGO -- He’s a gym rat who can’t get enough of football.

That’s Melvin Gordon in a nutshell, according to San Diego Chargers running backs coach Ollie Wilson.

The first-round pick of the Chargers in this year’s draft has more than lived up to lofty expectations, working hard and picking up the team’s new offensive scheme so that he’s in a position to succeed once training camp starts, Wilson says.

“I disagree with a lot of the comments I hear people make that the running back spot is the easiest to get involved in as a rookie,” Wilson said. “Yeah, if you just hand them the ball. But there’s a whole lot of other stuff he has to do, including pass protection, to be able to stay on the field.

“He’s been able to handle that kind of stuff, and really go through. The next phase is the physical part of it, matching up with linebackers and that situation there. But I don’t foresee him any different than he was starting with anything else because he works at it so hard.”

Wilson said Gordon still has a ways to go and a lot to learn, but he’s established a good foundation by his work ethic and his willingness to listen.

“What I’ve seen from him is No. 1, he’s a big-time competitor,” Wilson said. “He wants to compete in any situation that he’s in.

“This guy is in the building every day, even on weekends. One of our offensive line coaches was in here working out on Sunday morning, and Melvin was in here on the treadmill at 5 a.m. So it’s one of those situations where he came in with a great desire to be a great player, and now he’s trying to work at it in that situation, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Some NFL observers see Gordon as a system back because he played at Wisconsin, where they have churned out a lot of productive runners. However, Wilson does not see Gordon that way and views his background as a plus, not a weakness.

“Heck no,” Wilson said with a laugh. “I actually don’t understand why people think it’s a bad thing. If you come with that kind of criteria and that type of mindset -- when we talk about red zone running and goal line, short yardage his eyes gets big. It’s one of those situations where he knows we have to run the ball better.

“He reminds me of Natrone Means. He was a guy who said, ‘You give me the ball, and I’ll win the game. Just give me the football -- whatever we need to get, I’m going to go get it.’ So I think it’s a plus. He’s comes from a great background; we just have to fit him into our system. Some of the things we do, they did. A lot of things we do differently. But the mindset of running the football, being physical and running downhill, he’s got that. So it’s a good thing.”

Another benefit for Gordon has been joining an experienced running back room with players willing to share their knowledge, including Danny Woodhead, Donald Brown and Branden Oliver.

“I told him [Gordon] at the combine that if we’re fortunate enough to draft you, you’re going to come into a great room,” Wilson said. “Because all they’re going to do is open the door, bring you in, close the door and say ‘Hey, you’re part of us now.’

“I watch it all the time. He’ll get something and all of a sudden he’s not sure about something. And Danny will come over and say ‘Hey Mel, this is the way we run it.’ That’s the way our group works, and I think Mike McCoy set that tone and tempo when he first got here. As much as we’ll have that bell-cow guy, we’re going to play a lot of guys.”