We’re going deep on the roster with this one… real deep.
Tyrell Williams appeared in seven games for the San Diego Chargers in 2015, mainly because the team was hampered with injuries at the wide receiver position. It took him until the last game of the season to catch a pass, and his first catch—which was also the first catch of his career—went for an 80-yard touchdown against the Denver Broncos.
On the play, Denver cornerback Aqib Talib completely blew the coverage and it became a simple toss from Philip Rivers to Williams, but it’s the kind of play that people will remember you for.
Undrafted out of Western Oregon, Williams spent much of the season on the team’s practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster in November and can carry the momentum of his 80-yard touchdown into 2016. Next season, Williams could again be in a struggle to make the team. But that depends on what the Chargers do in the offseason.
Keenan Allen is entrenched as the team’s top wideout, but Malcom Floyd has retired. The Chargers will have to look for more depth in the draft or free agency, but there will be room for a guy to step out of the shadows.
Dontrelle Inman would be a popular choice to do so, but he’s failed to take advantage of the opportunities he’s been afforded thus far. That leaves Williams and Javontee Herndon, but we like Williams to emerge after a solid training camp this coming summer.
Rivers needs targets that are willing and able. He has Allen and Stevie Johnson and the team will have decisions to make regarding unrestricted free-agents Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. New offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt helped guide Rivers to one of the best seasons of his career in 2013. In order for Whisenhunt to do what he wants to do, the Chargers need more ammunition on offense.
Expect the team to make a play at a top wide receiver through free agency and perhaps in the draft as well, but don’t sell Williams short. At 6’3″ and 204 pounds, Williams has the size to make plays. He has good hands and is willing to work over the middle of the field. Finally, his tremendous speed allows him to get separation on the deep ball, something the Chargers struggled with all season in 2015. According to Sporting Charts, the Chargers were the worst team in the league at generating big plays in 2015. Big plays are characterized as run plays of over 10 yards and pass plays of 25 yards or more. The Chargers hit on a big play just 5.27 percent of the time. The next worst team in that category, the Washington Redskins, were still a full percentage point better than San Diego.
Could Williams be the answer to that problem? Could he become a breakout star on this team? The offensive system in place and the quarterback running it are two things working in Williams’ favor. Whisenhunt knows how to get the most out of players. Look back to 2013 when Vincent Brown caught 41 balls. That was more than he caught the rest of his career—combined.
If Williams doesn’t get buried on the depth chart after multiple free-agent signings and draft picks, look for him to make some noise in 2016.