Chargers fans obviously don’t need to hear it from anyone else, but the Bolts possess one of the best groups of pass-catchers (WRs, TEs, and RBs) in the NFL heading into the 2020 season. Whether it’s their two top wideouts, their starting running back, or their complete tight end, any of these four have and could threaten 1,000 yards receiving any given season.
In a recent article ranking the pass-catching units across all 32 teams, Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus slotted the Chargers in at #7 on his rankings, right behind the Detroit Lions and just ahead of the Carolina Panthers.
“There are questions at the quarterback position for the Chargers; there are questions about the left side of the offensive line, as well,” Linsey noted. “Where there shouldn’t be too many questions, though, is at the skill positions on offense. Keenan Allen is one of the best route-runners in the NFL and is the fourth-highest-graded wide receiver in the league over the last three seasons. Mike Williams is an effective downfield threat, averaging over 20 yards per reception in 2019 on his way to the first 1,000-yard season of his career.”
Keenan Allen using a “rocker-step” to make the DB jump inside pic.twitter.com/GP7Pe36PqP— Receiver Life (@ReceiverLife_) March 30, 2020
Aside from the big names that everyone else in the NFL is already aware of, Linsey believes there is a rookie receiver who will come in and play a notable role for the Bolts’ offense.
“One player who could surprise in 2019 is K.J. Hill. He has an NFL-ready skill set for the slot, and Andre Patton was a complete non-factor in that role for the Chargers last season (56 receiving yards on 303 routes run).”
I, among others, have made it very clear how excited I am for Hill’s prospects in the offense going forward. Like Linsey said, his game is ready-made to thrive in the slot but his level of route-running and nuance in his game will translate inside and out. Allen is already a menace to cover on third downs and the idea of stressing the middle of the defense with two players with elite footwork should have fans feeling giddy.
This year, barring any unforeseen events, could be the first full seasons for both Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry as the top dogs at their positions. Last year could have been that for both of them, but Henry’s injury and Gordon’s return from his holdout got in the way of each player’s potential.
Hunter Henry's got pretty good hands. #ProHogs pic.twitter.com/XQgbl4Xm8u— Aaron Brooks (@aaron_brooks) January 1, 2017
This season, they’ll have that chance again. It will, unfortunately, be without Philip Rivers. How much that will truly affect their numbers, and the rest of the pass-catchers on the team, remains to be seen. But don’t count out any of these guys, regardless of who is throwing them the football.