Chargers will look into adding another wide receiver with speed
As the Chargers prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 10 of 10: Receivers.
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both topped 1,000 yards receiving last season. Combined, the duo caught 153 passes for 2,200 yards and eight touchdowns.
The production was impressive. The subsequent falloff at wide receiver for the Chargers was equally glaring.
Know who had the most catches as a wide receiver after Allen and Williams in 2019? Dontrelle Inman, who appeared in only four games.
Inman finished with eight receptions for 132 yards before his season ended because of a quadriceps injury. For a top-flight wide receiver, those numbers would represent one good game.
No other wide receiver other than Allen and Williams caught a touchdown pass for the Chargers last season. After Inman, none had more than 56 yards receiving.
It appears the Chargers would be happy to start the season with veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, so whomever they choose in the NFL draft could be watching at first.
Sure, the bulk of the missing production instead came from running back Austin Ekeler, who had 92 receptions and 993 yards.
But the fact that the Chargers could count on only two wideouts speaks to something this offense was missing.
All of which means the Chargers are fully expected to draft a receiver. The good news for them is this draft is loaded at the position, with some longtime observers calling the depth historic.
The Chargers not only will be looking to bring in another threat on the outside, but they’ll also be shopping for a threat with speed. Seeing Kansas City’s offense twice a season has only reinforced the importance of getting faster.
Travis Benjamin had been the Chargers’ potential burner over the past few seasons. Injuries, however, too often kept him on the sidelines. He has since departed for San Francisco.
The Chargers will have a new quarterback in 2020, with veteran Tyrod Taylor forecast to be the Week 1 starter. Importing another weapon could help Taylor settle into the position and aid in the Chargers getting off to a faster start.
Tua Tagovailoa showed at Alabama he can excel in big games, but questions about the quarterback’s injury history has drawn extra scrutiny from NFL teams.
Under contract for 2020: Allen ($12.65 million), Williams ($6.374 million), Darius Jennings ($775,000), Jason Moore ($675,000), Andre Patton ($675,000), Jalen Guyton ($675,000), Tyron Johnson ($610,000).
Free agents: The Chargers so far have mostly avoided the open market in their search for a receiver, adding only Jennings. If nothing else, they could always look to acquire someone after training camps open, like they did in 2019 with Inman.
Draft: There is no position deeper this year than wide receiver, which would suggest there’s roughly a 100% chance of the Chargers drafting a pass catcher at some point. The faster the 40 time, the better.
Roster decisions: Jennings signed as a free agent last month after appearing in 24 games over the last two seasons with Tennessee. He’ll be given an opportunity to make the roster as both a receiver and kickoff returner. In 2018, Jennings averaged an NFL-best 31.7 yards on 22 returns.
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