After much development during the 2018 season and some changes in the offseason, it’s time to evaluate the status of the Chargers’ receiving corps…
Over the course of the offseason, I want to take a look at the Chargers position groups and determine a grade for that group heading into the 2019 season. Today, we’ll start with wide receivers.
The two main guys on this receiving corps are Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, especially following the departure of Tyrell Williams to the Oakland Raiders in free agency. Keenan Allen is still in his prime; his 2018 numbers were nearly identical to his 2017 numbers, and it was a career year again for him. Luckily, despite a career filled with some nasty injuries such as the ACL tear in 2016 or the kidney laceration in 2015, Allen’s been able to stay healthy recently, only having a minor hip pointer come up this year in the Chargers’ comeback win over Kansas City. The team knows what it’s getting with Keenan Allen. He’s unquestionably the Chargers’ No. 1 wideout, and he will be for the foreseeable future.
The next factor here is Mike Williams. Williams had a dynamic 2019 campaign where he broke out, doing so following a rookie season where he struggled to get back onto the field due to various injuries. He’s a guy Philip Rivers wasn’t afraid to sling it deep to, which is a very good sign. Going forward, especially without Tyrell Williams, No. 81 will be the primary deep threat for this team.
After the top two receivers, the corps gets a little murkier; not because it’s necessarily bad past those two guys, but because there will be a lot of work to figure out who the next couple receivers will on the depth chart. Travis Benjamin is back on a one-year deal, and he may end up having a role closer to 2017 than 2018. For comparison, last year Benjamin had 12 receptions for 186 yards, but had 34 catches for 567 yards the previous year. His numbers probably end up falling in the middle of those two seasons, and should go up because of the loss of Tyrell Williams.
As for the last few spots on the depth chart, it’ll all come down to competition. The guy in the best position to take a No. 4 spot or maybe even jump over Travis Benjamin is likely 2018 6th-round pick Dylan Cantrell. In December of last season, Cantrell was added to the team’s active roster following the release of tackle Joe Barksdale. Cantrell never saw the field, however, as he was inactive on most Sundays despite a promotion to the active roster.
Cantrell is not the only guy in the running, however. He’ll almost certainly compete with guys like Artavis Scott and Geremy Davis throughout training camp and the preseason. That’s a smart approach; Lynn letting those guys battle it out for spots can only help.
The top of the Chargers’ receiving corps is incredibly strong, with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams arguably the league’s best duo. Benjamin should still be able to be a decent deep threat sometimes, but his 2018 drop-off in production is somewhat concerning. The most crucial part of this corps is guys like Cantrell, Davis, and Scott, who will be competing for playing time this season. Having a solid third or fourth receiver is important, and the Chargers would do well to take advantage of the depth on their roster.