With Tyrell Williams chasing the bag and signing with the Oakland Raiders for $44 million across the next four years, the Chargers had to say goodbye to one of Tom Telesco’s greatest UDFA finds.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last couple years, you can likely recall Tyrell’s breakout season in 2016 when Keenan Allen was lost for the year after an ACL injury in week one of that season.
Williams went on to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark after catching 69 passes and seven touchdowns, taking full advantage of the gleaming opportunity in front of him.
Each of the last two seasons, back in a complimentary role, Williams still managed to average 42 catches, 690 yards, and 4.5 touchdowns per season, while averaging 16.9 and 15.9 yards per reception in ‘17 and ‘18, respectively.
Now that he has taken his talents to The Bay, the Chargers are stuck filling the the void left by the lengthy speedster. Although the situation isn’t as dreadful given the recent emergence of Mike Williams as the team’s unabashed WR2, the skill-set that Tyrell brought was still unique and you can’t take the attention he commanded from defenses for granted. He could stretch the field with the best of them while being one of the tallest wideouts on any given field.
At this very moment, there are four wide receivers vying for playing time in the absence of Tyrell: the longest-tenured up to this point being Travis Benjamin, last year’s sixth-round selection Dylan Cantrell, and the two recently re-signed guys, Geremy Davis and Artavis Soctt.
Now, how could each receiver play a part in the Bolts’ offense in 2019? Let’s take a look.
- 175 pounds
- Career Stats: 202 catches for 3,113 yards and 19 touchdowns
Benjamin was an exciting addition to the team prior to the 2016 season as a known field stretcher. He parlayed his breakout 2015 season with the Browns, in which he caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns, into a nice contract with the Bolts.
His most productive campaign with the Chargers came in his first year with the team. Like Tyrell, he took advantage of the increased snaps via Allen’s ACL tear and turned that into 47 catches for 677 yards and four touchdowns. After the emergence of Williams and the new Williams getting drafted in 2017, Benjamin found himself relegated to a much more limited role in 2018, posting the lowest season numbers of his career since his sophomore campaign (12 catches for 186 yards and a score).
This past season, Benjamin was used as nothing more than a decoy on screens and orbit motions in order to give defenses something to look at pre-snap. He eventually watched all of his special teams snaps dwindle away in favor of Desmond King, but that was because King didn’t RUN THE OPPOSITE WAY ON A PUNT RETURN AND COST THE TEAM A SAFETY AGAINST THE PATRIOTS.
Hell, even before Benjamin’s punt return debacle, he started falling fast out of Coach Lynn’s favor when he made it extremely obvious he was afraid of contact. That type of player isn’t cut-out for a Lynn-led team.
My take: I have been on the side that believes Benjamin needs to be cut before next season in order to clear up some cap space for the team to make another move or two prior to the draft. Getting rid of number 12 would save the team about $5 million dollars, just under the rough amount needed to sign the entire 2019 draft class.
- 226 pounds
- Career Stats: None
Cantrell turned heads with his performance at the 2018 NFL Combine when he turned in one of the best physical profiles by a receiver in recent memory. His RAS (relative atheltic score) was good 30th among wide receivers dating all the way back to 1987.
So Dylan Cantrell. That's quite a #RAS he has there. 30th overall out of 1,876 wide receivers who qualified for a score dating back more than three decades. pic.twitter.com/xjwnOlE38v— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 13, 2018
At 226 pounds, Cantrell ran a 4.59 forty (4.44 at his pro day) and jumped an exceptional 38.5 inches in the vertical and 10-feet 10-inches in the broad jump. His numbers also back-up his phenomenal contested catch skills that are super evident on tape. He reminded me of Stevie Johnson whenever he sailed through the air, contorting his body to make the tough catch in the back of the end zone or along the sideline.
Going through Dylan Cantrell clips. His 97th percentile athleticism shows up when winning contested.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 12, 2018
A big receiver who wins big. That works. #NorrisNotes pic.twitter.com/zq3r1a0Icf
If Lynn decided to plug Cantrell into the lineup, the Chargers would instantly have one of, if not, the tallest set of pass-catchers in the NFL. Cantrell, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry would look like the beginning of a basketball lineup with their 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, and 6-5 measurements.
If you guys can recall, Cantrell isn’t far removed from being a training camp superstar before he succumbed to a bone bruise prior to the exhibition games. Each practice recap usually mentioned Cantrell or Mike-Will at least once having made a spectacular catch or some other eye-popping play.
My Take: Give Cantrell the WR3 spot and prosper. It’ll be the second coming of “Basketball on Turf”
- 211 pounds
- Career Stats: 2 catches for 21 yards
Davis was the team’s most recent signing this offseason as they brought the 27-year old wideout back following a standout year on special teams.
The former sixth-round draft pick of the New York Giants led the Chargers in receiving during the 2018 preseason slate and made his fair share of spectacular catches against the San Francisco 49ers in the finale.
Great example of how running down kicks/punts is like being a pass rusher. Need great hand use to defeat blocks. WR Geremy Davis rips through the block, turns the corner, makes the tackle. Why DE/EDGE are valued here (and one reason a guy like Rosie Nix is so good). pic.twitter.com/gVQ783JCwo— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) February 20, 2019
At 6-foot-3, Davis fits right in to the taller mold of current Chargers wide receivers. If there is anyone that comes to mind right away when I think of Davis, it’s Dontrelle Inman, now of the Indianapolis Colts.
If you guys can remember back, Inman was actually used quite a bit in 1-WR sets when the team decided to deploy two or three tight ends to help establish the run. Although Inman was far from the best receiver on the team, he found himself gaining snaps due to an undervalued aspect of being a receiver.
My Take: If there is a way for Geremy Davis to leapfrog any of the receivers listed above him, it’s with his knack for doing the little things right and finding success in the third phase of the game. If anything, I would be more than content with Davis being the team’s WR4.
- 195 pounds
- Career Stats: None
Scott was productive from start to finish during his collegiate career at Clemson. It obviously helped to be a part of one of the most-explosive offenses over the last five years that was quarterbacked by former first-round pick Deshaun Watson.
As a freshman in 2015, Scott posted a 76-965-8 stat line, his best/most productive campaign to date. He followed that up with another season of 900+ receiving yards and six touchdowns before declining into a 614-yard, five touchdown final season.
At the 2017 NFL Combine, the 195-pound Scott ran a surprisingly slow 4.61 forty which didn’t bode well for his athletic profile heading into the draft. Even with all his production, Scott went undrafted before being signed by the Bolts.
Touchdown, @ArtavisScott!#ChargersCamp pic.twitter.com/jtJdk2uW2W— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) August 18, 2017
Like Davis and Cantrell, Scott had his fair share of impressive catches throughout training camp and the preseason but there is not much he brings to the table athletically. He isn’t fast, sudden, or explosive, which will only make his path to playing time that much harder.
There’s not much to say about a small receiver who is better at walling off defenders for contested catches than one who can create his own separation from defenders.
My Take: I’m not sure there is going to be a place for Scott on the team unless Benjamin gets cut and they keep him as a fifth wide receiver. Out of these four, I think Scott has the biggest odds to defy.