Over the years Tom Telesco has done a great job building one of the most complete receiving corps in the NFL. Through the draft he’s selected wideouts Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Quentin Johnston, to name a few. However, just as there’s a number of impact players he’s selected in the first round, there’s an equal number of WRs who were late-round selections or UDFAs. Drafted or not, the Chargers WR corp is one of the most dangerous in the NFL. Where do they fall amongst each other? In this third episode of Position Group Previews, we’ll take a look at the Bolts wideouts.
The Reliables: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Joshua Palmer
For as long as we can remember, Keenan Allen has been a star for the Chargers franchise. Over the past few seasons, Keenan Allen has been one of the best WRs on third down. The ways he’s been able to use his football IQ and athleticism to get open have been unmatched by Chargers receivers recently. There was some speculation going into the offseason about him being cut or traded, but Justin Herbert and Chargers fans should be more than happy to see him stay.
Over the span of his career, Mike Williams has emerged into being one of the best deep ball wideouts in today’s NFL. At 6’4” 220lbs, Williams towers over most DBs where he uses his basketball background to highpoint the football. Although he’ll be known for his highlight catches down the field, his route-running abilities are underappreciated as they have been steadily improving since his rookie year.
Joshua Palmer is by no means a star in this offense or in today’s game. But, he’s been nothing short of reliable for Justin Herbert. With Keenan Allen and Mike William’s high usage over their careers, each has caught the injury bug more than once. In their absences, Palmer has emerged to be one of the reliable wideouts while defenses focus on stopping Austin Ekeler. He’s quick, athletic, and has sticky hands. His stats may not be all-world, but in my opinion, Palmer is one of the most reliable and underrated WRs in the NFL.
The Rest: Jalen Guyton, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis
Last year was a wash for Jalen Guyton. Since being brought in as a UDFA, Guyton has helped stretch the field with his speed. He’s improved slightly as a route runner, but it’s not what he’s known for. He was out for almost all of last year with a torn ACL but should make an impact in the new system Kellen Moore is bringing over.
After being selected in the first round, I assume many would be quick to label Johnston as one of the “Reliables.” However, it’s going to take some time for him to translate to the NFL. Johnston is a freak athletically with his size, speed, and explosiveness. But it’s clear he needs to be more consistent in putting it all together. With his mentors being Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, I expect him to be one of the “Reliables” fairly soon.
I expect fellow TCU rookie Derius Davis to be one of the six wideouts brought into the regular season thanks to his versatility as a receiver and returner. One of the fastest players in this past year’s draft, Davis has the potential to be this year’s DeAndre Carter. He’s fast, has experience, and is an undervalued route runner. As he overperforms on special teams, I expect he’ll receive more opportunities on offense.
Potential Breakouts: Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis
He may not be reliable yet but he should make an impact largely in part to the players around him. This season the question for defenses is where will they focus on the Chargers offense. Will they hone in on Austin Ekeler? Do they double-team Keenan Allen to leave Mike Williams one on one? Do they double up Mike Williams to leave Keenan Allen on an island? Or will they combine any of these strategies? In any approach defenses take against the Chargers, Quentin Johnston should have the opportunity to make a name for himself. As previously mentioned, he’s big, explosive, and fast. Johnston is in the perfect position to explode onto the scene, it’s just a matter of him actually doing it.
As for Derius Davis, he’s in the same boat as his teammate Quentin Johnston. He won’t be a starter, but with him on the field teams will also have to worry about his sub-4.4 speed. As explained earlier, we should expect to see plenty of Davis on special teams and from the slot. Combining his speed, route running abilities, and those around him, he could make an impact far greater than anyone could have thought before he was drafted.
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