Over the coming weeks, I will be performing an analysis of each position group on the Chargers roster. The goal is to break down each group and see how each player faired in 2019. This will help to determine which players should be resigned, which positions need to be upgraded via free agency, or the draft, and potential contract extensions for the many players entering their prime. I am pushing for a goal date of March 6th, prior to the start of free agency. Free agency begins March 11th for negotiating, and players may enter into contracts on March 13th, the start of the new league year. This will provide me a week to look at potential free agents the Chargers should resign, and targets to upgrade their own team.
In all topics relating to the Chargers, Charger fans are only in agreeance on 3 things.
- Junior Seau is the greatest Charger to ever live. Raised in Oceanside, California, Junior was a Charger, before he was a Charger. What he meant to the San Diego community went far beyond football. He is a giant among giants. His story is untouchable.
- Everyone Hates Dean Spanos. The fact that there are any fans left, after Dean took his team to Los Angeles, is miraculous upon itself. This team belongs to San Diego. The fans have taken a lot of punches over the years, but the haymaker was without question the move to Los Angeles.
- Nobody wants Travis Benjamin on this team. Look, I know he’s fast, but he can’t catch and his job as a receiver is to catch the ball. He’s soft. In the event he actually does catches the ball, there’s a high chance he’s bee-lining to the sideline, or running backwards toward his own end zone.
Keenan Allen may be the best Charger on the offensive side of the ball. He has been special since he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL draft. Turning 28-years- old, he is right in the middle of his prime. If Rivers moves on to a new team, he will be the Chargers longest tenured player on offense. Early in his career, Allen dealt with some injuries, but he’s made himself available the last few years. For his career, he has 524 catches for 6,405 yards with 12.2 yards per catch. He was named the PFWA and Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the Year, is a 4-time pro-bowler and was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 2017.
Allen’s best attribute has to be his route running savviness. For a 6’2 receiver, he is surprisingly nimble for a player his size. He is able to run every route in the tree. He gets in-and-out of cuts quickly, and has a knack for finding the hole in the zone. He does a great job of getting defenders to turn their hips in man coverage, then make his cut to get separation. He also looks off defenders with his head before he makes a break, which is smart in not giving away his route. He is able to use his hands and agility at the line of of scrimmage to regularly beat press coverage. Allen regularly draws number one corners week-in and week-out.
Allen is a true possession receiver, in that he knows where the first down marker is, and that he is able to get down and not take big hits that could jar the ball loose. While he is known as a possession receiver, Allen has also shown great after-the catch-run ability. He can also come down with 50-50 balls, but that really isn’t his specialty. An area of his game that really isn’t talked about too much, is Allen has shown himself to also be a capable run-blocker. He has been motioned over to crack on defensive ends and linebackers, as well as squared up with safeties downfield on long runs. Overall, Allen is a well-rounded receiver able to do it all. He is extremely valuable to the offense’s success.
Allen has a new contract coming up soon, and he is most deserving. He is quickly climbing Charger leaderboards, and if signed, he has a legitimate chance to be the greatest Charger’s receiver in terms of stats. He’s been most impressive over the last 3 years where he has had 1,199 yards in 2019, 1,196 yards in 2018 and 1,393 yards in 2017, each year with 6 touchdowns receiving a piece. Assuming the Chargers wish to extend him this season, he should receive an offer similar to Stefon Diggs or Jarvis Landry. Look for something in the neighborhood of $73.5 Million over 5 years at about $14.7 Million a year with about $40 Million guaranteed.
Mike Williams is a big bodied receiver who hasn’t seemed to reach his full potential as of yet. Fresh off a College Football National Championship at Clemson in 2017, he was the 7th overall pick and 2nd receiver taken, after Corey Davis in that years NFL Draft. Many saw him as the best wide receiver in that class, which included the likes of John Ross, Kenny Golliday, Cooper Kupp and Chris Godwin. Standing at 6’4, 220 pounds, he draws many comparisons to players known for their jump ball and red zone specialties, like Plaxico Burruss or AJ Green. His rookie season was hampered with injury, but his 2018 season looked like he was ready to step into his role as being the compliment to Keenan Allen as WR2.
Diving into his 2019 tape, I believe he had a lot more to show than what he gave us. He didn’t score a touchdown until the season was already lost. For someone expected to be a red zone threat, he only had 2 touchdowns on the season. He stepped into his role as a deep threat, averaging 20.4 yards per catch, but only had 49 catches for the season. While he did eclipse the 1000 yard mark on the season, it still feels like he took a step back from 2018. While I believe offensive play-calling played a major role, as well as the decline of Phillip Rivers deep ball, I’m worried about Mike Williams unimpressive season.
For a jump ball specialist, i don’t like how Mike Williams high points the ball. He sometimes looks like he is trying to cradle catch the ball at its highest point rather than turn his hands around and aggressively go get it. It’s not something he does every time, but he’s done it more than a few. When he does try to catch with his arms outstretched, he will double clutch occasionally leading to drops if fighting with a defender. He juggles the ball as he is coming down with it. When the ball is in the air, he has the body control to contort if the ball is not on the mark. He will make some pretty ridiculous catches that leaves everyone in awe.
As a route runner, he doesn’t run a whole lot of complicated routes. Majority of the time, he’s streaking as the outside receiver. Occasionally, they will have him on drags, slants, corners and post routes, but they really focus on him getting deep to create things underneath. He has shown the ability to run after the catch if he gets the ball in space and he has enough speed to make the defense pay for it, but he’s not making people miss. He’s strong enough to use in the run game as a blocker, though often he can get lazy. Overall, Mike Williams is a big play threat, but he needs to secure his catches and bring them in more securely. He is limited as a route runner. He will need to show quite a bit to be considered for a new contract, but he is worth his 5th year option after next year.
A really fast guy who will be running, fast, to free agency. Doesn’t even get his own picture. Bye!
Andre Patton is a player who has been on and off the Chargers practice squad for 2 years now, but late in 2019, with injuries to Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin, he has actually seen some playing time. Standing 6’3, 200 pounds, from Rutgers, Patton is a tall receiver with 4.4 speed. He hasn’t been overly productive in game action, and to be honest, I had liked Artavis Scott a bit more. For whatever reason, the Chargers decided to roll with Patton and Let Artavis Scott walk.
For the season, Patton had 6 catches for 56 yards on the season. He was given opportunities for big plays from Phillip Rivers, but the connections just didn’t happen. He is a player I expect to to battle for a spot on next years 53 man roster, but the Bolts should bring in additional competition. There is a spot open for the WR3 position, and Patton will have an opportunity to claim it for himself with a strong camp. If he wants it, well they say beach bodies are made in the winter. He should have already started training for the 2020 season.
Geremy Davis/Jason Moore/Jalen Guyton/Dylan Cantrell
Each of these players will be battling for WR4/WR5 and special teams spot on next years 53 man roster. Geremy Davis has played Gunner on punts majority of his time as a Bolt, but hit IR early this year. Moore and Guyton managed to end the season on the final roster, but neither had any meaningful snaps in game action. Dylan Cantrell is the more intriguing prospect to look for. He has dealt with injuries thus far in his 2 seasons. If he plans on having any type of NFL career, he needs to make it happen this season. He is a big body receiver that plays the same type of game as Mike Williams. He played college ball with Patrick Mahomes at Texas A&M. Look for him to take a step forward as a way too early sleeper in camp come this summer.
Outside of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers are pretty thin at the WR position. Luckily, they have Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry masking depth as playmakers in different formations, but neither may be here next year. Both players are free agents and while the Bolts have the ability to bring both back, the possibility exists that neither will be here next year. Look for them to bring in a speedy veteran as competition for that WR3 spot, like a Phillip Dorsett or a Laquan Treadwell. By the way, the Chargers likely won’t get a big name free agent like, Robbie Anderson, who will break the bank at this position. This will most likely be a 1-year prove it deal, and a coupon find for Tom Telesco. Be on the lookout for my next part in this series: Tight Ends.