Replacing Branden Oliver Isn’t Easy for Chargers

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

Kenneth Farrow (5-9, 219) has to be the first option if the Chargers choose to look internal, which they tend to prefer. For those unfamiliar with Farrow, he came out of Houston where he left with impressive numbers. Without mentioning those in detail, he finished his career for the Cougars fourth on the UH all-time rushing yards chart, second in rushing touchdowns, and third in attempts. Additionally, he proved to be an excellent pass catcher.

While Farrow was signed as a UDFA, Pro Football Focus ranked him as a running back sleeper prospect. Their motivation was largely based on his impressive production during the Houston Pro Day. Using his premium athleticism, Farrow is a physical runner who’s not afraid of contact and puts in effort to keep his feet moving. This extra effort is highly appreciated and could be essential to succeed as a NFL running back.

Kenneth Farrow had a good training camp with the Bolts and showcased his abilities in the first preseason game against the Titans. His stat line from that game, in which he ran for 60 yards on 16 carries and had two receptions for 25 yards, looked promising. Unfortunately, he was sidelined during the next two games. It will be important that he plays against the 49ers. According to Tom Krasovic (Union Tribune), he’s ready to go.

Since the Chargers just claimed Gus Johnson off waivers, I have to mention him. It seems unlikely, tho, that a second year UDFA who has been on the Cowboys and Falcons practice squad and couldn’t survive the first wave of roster cuts in Atlanta, has a real shot at claiming that RB3 spot. More likely, besides being insurance, the Bolts needed extra depth for the final preseason game.

Chris Swain, a Naval Academy graduate who was cleared to pursue a NFL career, is a feel good story, especially in a city like San Diego. With his 6-0, 249 frame and toughness, he’d be perfect as a complementary back to Gordon, Woodhead in short yardage and goal line situations.

He’d fall short as a backup of one of them, so the team will never consider him as a realistic option to replace Oliver. Ideally, he’d be on the roster as the fullback, but the Chargers chose a different route and he won’t be on the field as long as Derek Watt is there. For now, Swain seems to be a strong candidate to make the practice squad.

I’ve discussed all backs currently with the team, but the Chargers will no doubt scour the waiver wire after September 3, when all rosters must be trimmed down to 53. I’ve read about David Cobb (already available), Ronnie Hillman, Kapri Bibbs, Kerwynn Williams, but it’s all speculation who will be cut or not and who the Bolts may or may not be interested in.

Personally, I feel the Chargers should go with Kenneth Farrow. He seems to have the talent and potential to be a versatile back, much like Oliver (also a UDFA), the kind of back the team wants for their backup RB3 spot. Whether it’s Farrow or someone yet to be claimed off waivers, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to bring to the team what Oliver would have.

Part of why I wrote this article is to emphasize how valuable Branden Oliver would’ve been for the Chargers. While he may not be a flashy feature back (yet, anyway), he IS a luxury backup, capable of anything you could ask of a running back. That’s why he’s one of my favorite Bolts, not because he happens to wear a certain number and has a similar build as the player who wore that number before him.

Ultimately, it’s the toughest break for Branden Oliver himself. I wish him all the best with his recovery and look forward to a strong comeback in 2017.

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