One of the most exciting young players on the Chargers’ roster has yet to play a single NFL down. And no, I’m not referring to the prodigal son, Forrest Lamp.
I’m obviously talking about Dylan Cantrell, the team’s sixth-round pick in 2017 out of Texas Tech University.
“But Michael, he was hurt and then still didn’t see the field after he recovered.” SILENCE!
For the first week or so of training camp last year, Cantrell was performing like a practice All-American before he suffered a bone bruise in his leg, which brought an abrupt ending to all the momentum he had from day one.
However, thanks to Tyrell Williams’ departure up north, there is a shot for Cantrell to stake his claim as the team’s third wide receiver behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. After all, Cantrell’s skill-set that he exhibited at Texas Tech fits nicely with how Philip Rivers like to march down the field: chucking it up to his big-bodied wideouts and giving them a shot to come down with the rock.
As a former four-star recruit from Whitehouse, Texas, Cantrell found playing time as a true freshman during the 2013 season, snagging just nine passes for 70 yards and a single touchdown. In his sophomore campaign, he was a little more productive but still wasn’t a focal point in the offense. He finished 2014 with 312 receiving yards and a pair of scores on 20 catches.
Prior to the 2015 season, Cantrell suffered a back injury that forced him to take a redshirt year in the middle of his career. When he came back the following year, he was a versatile fixture of the offense that included current NFL wide receivers Keke Coutee (Houston Texans) and Derrick Willies (Cleveland Browns). He finished 2016 with 58 catches for 675 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a senior, he put a nice bow on his career by notching career-highs in catches and receiving yards with 71 and 816, respectively. He also finished with seven touchdown catches and a rushing touchdown.
College: Texas Tech
Years with team: 1
“Dylan Cantrell signed a 2 year, $1,050,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $525,000. In 2019, Cantrell will earn a base salary of $570,000, while carrying a cap hit of $570,000.” - Spotrac.com
Cantrell was one of the most trusted targets for quarterback Patrick Mahomes while at Tech. The tall, uber-athletic receiver possesses excellent ball skills and elite hands at the catch point. Whether it was Vincent Jackson. Malcolm Floyd, Tyrell, or Mike Williams, Rivers has loved being able to chuck it downfield to his sizable receivers.
Cantrell can be the next guy in line to kick-start his career catching passes from Old Man Rivers. He only has to beat out veteran Geremy Davis and hyped UDFA wideout, Artavis Scott.
It should worry some that Cantrell was unable to find himself in the rotation once he got healthy later in 2018. In the end, it could be summed-up to the team simply not needing him with the top-4 guys on the depth chart being so solid.
Odds of making the final roster/What to expect in 2019
I fully expect Cantrell to make the final 53-man roster as the team will likely keep at least five, and more likely six, wide receivers on the roster. Following Allen, Williams, and Benjamin, I expect the final three to be Cantrell, Scott, and Davis, and not specifically in that order.
My expectations are for him to see minimal playing time in some of the less important games until he proves he can be trusted more and more.
Fun Fact: Cantrell and current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes were teammates while at Whitehouse High-School.