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Why the Chargers should draft a Wide Receiver in the 1st round

In part four of our ongoing series, we take a look at why the Chargers should draft a wide receiver with their first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Bob Stanton-US PRESSWIRE

Last year, the San Diego Chargers offense was seemingly back to the type of success Chargers' fans have been accustomed to. But it very well could not have been - because let’s face it - had Keenan Allen did what he said he thought of doing, the Phillip Rivers of 2013 might have never returned to form. The Chargers probably wouldn't have returned to the playoffs, and this column could have been written from the perspective of drafting a quarterback instead.

2013 brought to light just how thin San Diego really is at the Wide Receiver spot. This leads to the point that the 2014 Draft is where the Chargers need to invest the 25th overall pick. Allen, who stated in December that he was one more snap away from quitting football after not playing in week 1, was thrust into the no. 1 receiver spot when teammate Malcolm Floyd suffered a possibly career-ending neck injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 2. Floyd, who has expressed a desire to play this season, has not been medically cleared by the doctors to play: something the Chargers front office says needs to happen first. Floyd may not play this year, or ever. The loss of Floyd was the first major blow to the offense.

The second was when WR Danario Alexander didn't even make it to week two of training camp, tearing his right ACL in a non-contact drill. And just this past January, it was revealed that Alexander had a second operation on the same knee as a follow-up procedure. Alexander, blessed with untapped potential, has had 5 surgeries on his left knee. Not good for a player entering his 5th year. This latest setback only reinforces the fact that the unrestricted free agent may not be re-signed.

So, just to review, last year’s two projected starters were out for the season 2 weeks into the year. As for their availability for 2014, the outlook is less than positive. It makes you wonder how the Chargers even had the 4th best passing offense in the league in 2013. Credit the rookie Allen. No. 13 continued to gain the confidence of QB Phillip Rivers, ending the year as the runner-up for the AP Rookie of the Year award. Allen finished the season with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and 8 TD’s, setting team rookie records in the process. His ascension from once risky 3rd round draft choice to - dare I say - Jerry Rice comparisons, gives Rivers a true go-to option outside of tight end Antonio Gates. But the Chargers need another piece.

WR's Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown, Seyi Ajirotutu and Lavelle Hawkins are all serviceable wideouts and each has a place on this team. Futures contract prospect Dontrelle Inman could be an intriguing pickup. Inman went undrafted coming out of the University of Virginia. He spent the past 2 years in the CFL, where the 6'3" prospect found the endzone 11 times. He could be the answer, but he is at this point an unknown. What is known is that Allen needs that threat on the opposite side of the field. Someone who can take away some of the double teams he began to see more often as the season progressed. For the record, Allen held his own against double teams, but why force him to endure a full season more of that? In a draft that is likely to see at least 4 or 5 wideouts with first round talent, the time is now to re-load Rivers' arsenal. And a chance to free up Allen a little more often.