Added competition to the LA Chargers and overall volume
This can really be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. The LA Chargers had a huge need at the wide receiver position after Keenan Allen and Williams. They addressed it on day three of the 2020 NFL Draft, drafting Joe Reed in the fifth round and K.J. Hill on the seventh.
This should help both Allen and Williams in a way, as adding more weapons should help stop defenses from focusing on stopping the talented duo. Hill is a slot receiver who should get his fair share of snaps, while Reed will more likely be used differently, with manufactured touches to make the most of his dynamism while he develops as a wide receiver.
Melvin Gordon vacated some targets, but as to who will be the beneficiary, it remains to see. However, those targets may be lost altogether. Rivers threw the ball 591 times in 2019, and it’s fair to say neither Taylor nor Herbert will go anywhere near that number.
Taylor himself has never thrown the ball more than 437 times in a single season. Both quarterbacks bring a mobile element, and that limits the times they get the ball in the air.
The concern here is that Williams didn’t even command a large target share last season on his way to 1,000 yards. Allen led the way with 25% of all the team’s targets, with Ekeler in second place with 18.1%. Williams’ 90 targets were only good for third, with a 15.1% target share.
But those targets, as everyone probably remembers, were sometimes deep and aggressive. If one looks at Next Gen Stats‘ share of team’s air yards, which measures the percentage of all team intended air yards a receiver gets, one can see Williams actually has 31.76%of the Chargers’ intended air yards, more than double his target share. That’s also 1% more than Allen.
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That’s good for 16th in the league, which is not bad for a #2 receiver on his team. With a conservative quarterback in place, his deep targets will certainly regress, and that might make his target share dip as well.
With volume on the offense decreasing as well, along with the added competition getting the targets that Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin stopped getting when they got injured, Williams will not get many opportunities next season to do damage.
Luckily for him, the team picked up the fifth-year option in his contract, which means that a bad season won’t end his stint in the team. A solid 2020 season could get him a contract extension after the season, but it will be hard to overcome all the obstacles mentioned previously.
He could aim for a solid 2021 season to get him that extension, but with Allen due an extension himself after 2020, it will be hard for the team to keep both players. Whichever way Williams’ season goes, you should be prepared for the team to lose such a talented player to free agency. While the odds are against him, Williams certainly has the talent to overcome the difficulties and shine.