The Chargers had a lot of production from the receiving position last season, featuring Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. They are not talked about enough when it comes to helping with the development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. Some receivers took the team by surprise this last season.
Lock: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
On the bubble: Tyron Johnson, Jalen Guyton, K.J. Hill, John Hurst, Jason Moore, Joe Reed
The good: Keenan Allen had another pro bowl season making 100 catches for 992 yards and tied a career-high with eight touchdowns. Allen again stepped up and was the favorite receiver for Herbert, mirroring the way he was for Rivers for so many years. Mike Williams also took a step in the right direction in 2020. He did get off to a slow start, but once the offense ran more plays for him, Williams was able to show why he was taken seventh overall. There was some good play by both Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson. Guyton was the third receiver who made some big plays, but Johnson came out of nowhere. He worked his way up in training camp and turned out to be a significant contributor.
The bad: the offense is missing one crucial element, and that is speed. Yes, Guyton and Johnson stepped up last season, but at times Guyton would have a drop. The Chargers still need a legit third receiver. They need to add some speed to the receiving core. They have Allen (the route runner) and Mike Williams (down the field threat), but they are missing a burner. That could help them take their offense to a whole new level. If the Chargers can have that three-headed monster at receiver, they could improve by a lot, especially with a young quarterback.
The money: Allen and Williams are set to take about $31 million of the cap space. Allen signed a new deal last season, and it takes effect this season. Williams is on his fifth-year option, but with him set to make $15 million this season, so what now? Well, the Chargers could offer Williams an extension to ease their salary cap situation and free up more money. Don’t expect them to trade him or cut him. The Bolts brass really like Williams and believe in him.
Draft priority: I don’t believe receiver is a need over the offensive line, cornerback, or pass rusher. There is a new coaching staff coming in, so they will evaluate the whole team and see who fits and who doesn’t. The Bolts did draft KJ Hill and Joe Reed last season, but neither really stepped up. Those were Anthony Lynn picks, so Brandon Staley could decide to move on from them. If the team doesn’t sign a free agent speedy receiver, they will need to look in the draft for guys like Demetric Felton from UCLA or Purdue’s Randale Moore. Both players are fast and electric. They could fit the Chargers well and help them gain that explosive speed they need to help their offense. They could also chase other free agents like Bengals receiver John Ross, who hasn’t lived up to the billing, but coming back to California and getting a fresh start could help bring out his potential.