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Chargers wide receivers: Better or worse in 2016?

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A position-by-position look at the San Diego Chargers’ roster, and whether the team is better or worse off than they were last season.

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

Our final offensive position group to review is the wide receivers. We previously looked at quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, and offensive linemen. So far, the consensus is that every single one of those position groups projects as better than last year’s offering. So, let’s check out the receivers.

Wide Receivers

  • Rasheed Bailey
  • Dom Williams
  • Isaiah Burse
  • Travis Benjamin
  • Keenan Allen
  • Dontrelle Inman
  • Tyrell Williams
  • Javontee Herndon
  • Torrence Allen
  • DeAndre Reaves
  • James Jones

Analysis

Keenan Allen was on pace to shatter the Chargers franchise single-season reception record last year before a lacerated kidney put him on the shelf for the second half of the season. Through training camp and two preseason games, Allen looks like the same dominant playmaker that we’ve all become familiar with over the last three years. This season, he also has Ken Whisenhunt back as his offensive coordinator. Whisenhunt, as you likely remember, was the OC during Allen’s historically productive rookie campaign.

Big-ticket free agent signing Travis Benjamin brings a kind of speed to the Chargers’ offense that we have not seen in years. He stretches the field in a way that very few in the league can. He doesn’t have the most developed route tree, but what he does do, he does well. If Philip Rivers can trust him, he’ll add a very important element to the offense.

Tyrell Williams will be competing with Benjamin to replace the role left vacant by Malcom Floyd’s retirement. Williams is a more comparable player stylistically, but Benjamin should be expected to get every opportunity to be one of the top targeted receivers thanks in some part to his price tag this offseason. Williams is in his second year trying to make the Chargers 53-man roster and this year he seems poised to not only make the team but be an impact player for the team.

Javontee Herndon and Dontrelle Inman are also back with the team for a second and third year respectively, but both have seen their stock drop in the last few months. Herndon’s inability to stay healthy is a major liability that he is unlikely to overcome to make the roster. Inman is simply not a very dynamic player and he should have been passed on the depth chart.

Isaiah Burse is one of the players that has hopefully surpassed Inman. He has more potential to be a quality contributor as Inman likely caps out as a 5th receiver on a decent offense. Burse has looked excellent in practice, but has not gotten a lot of help from backup quarterbacks in the preseason.

James Jones is a free agent signing that was brought in after Stevie Johnson was lost for the season. He brings a veteran presence and a reliability that the wide receiver corps needed. He will be a trustworthy target on third downs and in the red zone. He’s not a particularly large receiver, but he plays big and he shields defenders well.

Dom Williams and DeAndre Reaves are players that bring some excitement with them, but neither is likely to make the final 53. Either or both would be an interesting practice squad player, though, and there should be hope that one or both makes it. Rasheed Bailey and Torrence Allen both flash talent, but neither is likely to be a contributor now or in the future.

Better or Worse?

Better. Once again, the position group looks improved from last year. Having a healthy Keenan Allen is a lot better than half a season of Keenan Allen. The signings of Benjamin and Jones to pair with the emergence of Williams also go a long way toward this unit projecting to be better. Hey, what do you expect? Last year’s team went 4-12. It would be hard to be worse.