Chargers news: Pro Football Focus ranks Los Angeles’ wide receiver corps 13th

Mike Williams #81 and Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Mike Williams #81 and Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Chargers enter 2020 a bit better than average at wide receiver, at least according to the folks over at Pro Football Focus.

The Los Angeles Chargers are going to need their wide receivers to step up in 2020 if the team hopes to make a serious dent in what looks to be a hotly contested AFC West this season.

Especially if head coach Anthony Lynn wants to either get much more out of veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor or rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert, however that pans out between now and Week 1.

A good receiving corps can make an OK quarterback look great, while a bad group of wideouts can greatly reduce a quarterback’s effectiveness.

So it’s a good thing Los Angeles is on the right side of the wide receiver equation, at least according to Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, who recently compiled his rankings for each team’s wide receiver corps heading into the upcoming season.

Palazzolo has the Chargers ranked 13th overall, and he justified it with the following:

The Chargers have a good pairing at the top of the depth chart in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but the big question for this group is who will emerge as the No. 3 option. Allen is one of the best route runners in the league — he’s been open on 58.6% of his single coverage targets over the last three years, good for 15th out of 62 qualifiers. Allen is slick at the line of scrimmage and at the top of the route, and he does his best work at the intermediate (10-19 yard) level, where his 601 yards ranked fourth in the league last season.

There’s little doubting Allen and Williams comprise the big two, and it was great to see the 25-year-old Williams finally break out with his first 1,000-yard receiving campaign a year ago while leading the league with an impressive 20.4 yards per reception.

As long as those two stay healthy, either Taylor or Herbert should have a dynamic pairing to target over the course of the season. One might expect both receivers’ numbers to take a slight hit with the change in quarterback, following the departure of veteran QB Philip Rivers during the offseason.

Still, a team would rather have these kind of weapons than not.

Yet Palazzolo was wise to point out the lack of a true No. 3 threat to complement both Allen and Williams. As the PFF analyst pointed out, “the rest of the Chargers depth chart has combined for 33 career receptions and the No. 3 spot is one of the Chargers’ biggest question marks heading into the season.”

A year ago, the thinking was now-San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Travis Benjamin could bounce back and fill this void from the slot. After an injury-riddled five-game campaign last year, however, the veteran speedster is looking to resurrect his once-promising career up north.

The Chargers used two of their picks in the 2020 NFL Draft on wideouts, Virginia’s Joe Reed in Round 5 and Ohio State’s K.J. Hill in Round 7.

These two figure to compete with returning receivers like Andre Patton and Jason Moore, who combined for eight receptions and 99 receiving yards a year ago.

Simply put, the depth for L.A. behind Allen and Williams is wide open. The clear hope, of course, would be for one of the two draftees to solidify a role within the slot, particularly Reed who has excellent yards-after-the-catch potential. Those kinds of abilities should help either Taylor or Herbert add extra yards to the stat sheet on a game-by-game basis, also taking the pressure off the more established Chargers wide receiver tandem expected to put up big numbers in 2020.

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At least in an ideal world.

Fortunately, however, the Chargers still have one of the better wide receiver tandems in the league, and that pairing figures to be about as important a part of the team as any heading into the upcoming season.