How Marion Grice Fits with the San Diego Chargers

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIApril 3, 2017

Arizona State's Marion Grice (1) stiff-arms Colorado's Greg Henderson while running with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday Oct. 12, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Marion Grice was a scoring machine for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

In 24 career games, he totaled 39 touchdowns and was the only player in the nation to surpass 400 yards in rushing, receiving and kick returns.

Grice was a Hornung Finalist in 2013 during a season in which he rushed for close to 1,000 yards with 14 touchdowns, and he added 438 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His 176.5 all-purpose yards per game ranked third in the FBS last season, and he returned 21 kicks for a total of 507 yards.

Grice was truly a triple threat in the Arizona State offense, and that same role could be in his future with the San Diego Chargers.

For starters, San Diego didn't have much of a return game last season. Danny Woodhead, Lavelle Hawkins and Ronnie Brown combined to return 32 kicks for 707 yards. Grice can help that weakness and limit the workload for Woodhead.

From a receiving standpoint, Grice could fit into a similar role to that of Woodhead's. Whether he's coming out of the backfield or lining up in the slot, Grice has demonstrated he can find the end zone as a receiver.

Carries out of the backfield could be limited, however.

San Diego added former Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown in the offseason, joining Woodhead and bell-cow back Ryan Mathews. The only scenario I could picture Grice getting work in the run game is if Mathews is unable to stay healthy. The offense suffered late in the year when Mathews couldn't finish games because of injuries, so bringing in Grice may be Tom Telesco's way of tying up a loose end that hurt the team in 2013.

If we're looking to the future, then this could potentially be a move to plan ahead in a contract year for Woodhead. He turned 29 in January, and his effectiveness as a rusher left little to be admired. 

I can remember one scenario in Week 9 of last season when San Diego struggled to punch in a score from the goal line with Woodhead taking the rock. He's a great receiver and decent route-runner, but it seemed like his size held him back when he needed to run between the tackles and get tough yards.

In New England, Woodhead didn't get a lot of carries in Bill Belichick's offense. His strength was in the passing game. Woodhead's first year in San Diego saw him carry the ball for a career-high 106 times. A sizable margin compared to what he's used to.

Grice is a just a few pounds heavier than Woodhead, but he's more physical in the hole and a little more explosive when he finds space. I didn't see that from Woodhead last season, and it could have been the difference in that game against the Washington Redskins.

For now, though, it appears Grice will come into camp and compete for a spot as a returner on special teams. From there, it's possible Mike McCoy and Frank Reich find some sort of role for him on offense.