Chargers: Remaining 2017 draft class
Mike Williams responded to a rough rookie season with a team-high 10 receiving touchdowns, including a three-touchdown (two receiving, one rushing) and two-point scoring performance in Kansas City en route to a thrilling 29-28 victory. This year, he’ll have to be even better.
Since becoming the team’s 2017 first-round selection, Williams has never been asked to be the dominant second receiver opposite Keenan Allen; that role belonged to Tyrell Williams, who departed to the Oakland Raiders in free agency. No. 81 showed multiple instances of dominance last year, but only appeared in 62.51 percent of the team’s offensive snaps despite being healthy for all 16 games.
If the Chargers are going to have any kind of success in the AFC West, they need Williams to improve even further in his all-important third season in the NFL. There is no definitive strong third receiver on the roster, currently, making it all the more important for Williams to dominate opposing corners.
Nowhere is there more pressure for improvement, however, than with the three offensive linemen projected to start this season: Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney, and Sam Tevi. Lamp has not been granted a starting role yet, but it is beginning to look as if he will win a job with the first-string offense somewhere:
#Chargers coach Anthony Lynn says he wants G Forrest Lamp to get comfortable at both guard positions first then try and give him reps at tackle. Says he wants to give Lamp a chance to win back his starting spot.
— Fernando Ramirez (@RealFRamirez) May 20, 2019
For now, the guess is he will win a job at either left or right guard. Right guard is most likely; however, earning a spot with the first-string unit would mean current starter Michael Schofield, the highest graded offensive lineman not named Pouncey or Okung, would be pushed out of his position. Does the team then switch Schofield to tackle?
For the sake of this article, pretend the final lineup will be Okung-Feeney-Pouncey-Lamp-Tevi. The Chargers have decided to use the same players on their roster from last year to fill out their line this year. No free agents, no draft picks (that would start); it all falls on the shoulders of the men from the 2017 draft class. Of the three, only Feeney has spent an entire season as a starter. If the Chargers give Lamp the nod, it will be the first time both Tevi and Lamp have entered Week 1 as the official starting right tackle and right guard. Two years ago, Telesco used three selections to build a dominant offensive line; can they finally put it together?
Without Jenkins and Rochell, the Chargers lack depth. Without King, the team will be left scrambling to find someone as versatile who can play multiple positions. Without Williams, the team doesn’t stand a chance scoring as many points (hopefully more) as teams like the Chiefs or Patriots in the postseason. And without the development of the three offensive linemen from the 2017 class, the offense has no chance to operate at a Super Bowl level. Those linemen, in particular, will have to answer for a Divisional Round beat-down in Foxborough. If Feeney, Lamp, and Tevi can’t improve, the team will miss the Super Bowl. Let’s see what they’ve got.