We’re looking at each position on the Los Angeles Chargers roster and trying to determine what they need heading into the NFL draft.
Next up on the list is wide receiver.
The starters: Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams
The backups: Dontrelle Inman, Isaiah Burse, Da’Ron Brown, Geremy Davis, Javontee Herndon, Jamaal Jones
What they need: A high-upside prospect who can grow into a starting role.
The return of the Chargers dynamic young receiver Keenan Allen will provide an immediate boost to a passing attack that, at times last season, was stagnant and inconsistent. When Keenan went down in the opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs it really hurt the Chargers in more ways than one. They lost one of the most talented and productive players at his position, and as a result they were forced to thrust two other players into roles that they really were not prepared for. The signing of Travis Benjamin last off-season was major news, and he was touted by many to be the perfect compliment to Keenan Allen. However, Benjamin was never really given a chance to play that complementary role with Allen going down not even two quarters into the season. Instead, Benjamin had to be relied upon more than he should have been. He was a good player with the Cleveland Browns, but he was not ready to become the Chargers primary weapon during his first season with the team. Needless to say, Benjamin struggled mightily during his first campaign with the Bolts marred by sub-par play and injuries.
Fans fell in love with the immensely talented Tyrell Williams during training camp prior to last season, with some even giving him the nickname Tyrell “Moss”. While gifted, the expectations were probably a little high for the then second year wide out. He quickly became Philip Rivers go-to man and had a nice sophomore campaign, quietly going over 1,000 yards on the year. Though the season was not without its struggles. We saw a few bad drops, and quickly learned that coming down with contested passes was something Williams still needed to work on.
Dontrelle Inman proved to be a reliable option for Philip Rivers when he needed to make a play, and he has earned a spot on the roster going forward. He is good depth and a reliable number 4 receiver, but probably should not be counted on to become anything more than that. The rest of the guys behind Inman are just depth players at this point, and a few most likely will not even be on the roster come Week One. Burse has some value as a kick/punt returner, but hasn't provided much outside of that niche role.
What the Chargers need to do is find a high-upside receiver in the draft who can eventually be starting opposite Keenan Allen. With Allen, Williams, and Benjamin already cemented in as starters in 2017, hopefully the rookie will be able to use his first season to get acclimated to playing in the NFL. It’s possible they could find an early star who bursts onto the scene, and that would be great, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if their young player doesn't post Michael Thomas like numbers in his first season. Draft a receiver and let him grow into a starter. Do that and in two to three seasons the Chargers could potentially boast the leagues top receiving corps.