Averaging over 276 yards, the Los Angeles Chargers ranked first in receiving yards per game. Led by the 2017 Comeback Player Of The Year, Keenan Allen, the Chargers sported a dangerous receiving core in 2017. So today, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at the individual performances of each Chargers wideout.
Oh boy. To say the least, it was a season to forget for Mike Williams. The former seventh overall pick struggled with back issues off the field and produced next to nothing on it. Playing just ten games, Williams caught only 11 receptions for 95 yards on the season. To give you some perspective, Keenan Allen had multiple games last year that were better than Mike Williams’ entire season. Now obviously, I’m not going to give up on the rookie after just one season. But, the consistent inability to catch balls and the possibility of a looming back injury are definitely points of concern going forward.
Coming out of his sixth NFL season, Travis Benjamin is still a reliable slot receiver, who is virtually unstoppable when in the open field. For just the third time in his career, Benjamin played a full 16 games while catching 34 passes for 567 yards. Along with these receptions came four receiving touchdowns and his first special teams’ touchdown as a Charger. With just two years left on his contract, Benjamin has a great ability to be the “X” factor on any given day. Known as a deep-ball threat, Benjamin is yet another guy opposing defenses have to worry about.
Coming from a scarcely known division two school, there was little to no hope that Tyrell Williams could make it in the NFL. Therefore, for Williams to be a 700+ yard receiver in one of the leagues best passing offenses is genuinely astonishing. Williams provides a vertical-threat that keeps opposing defenses honest. So, if you are forced to respect Williams in coverage, you can’t focus all your attention on Keenan Allen, giving the Pro-Bowler more space to operate in. Every offense needs a good number two option at receiver, and Tyrell Williams is as good as they come.
You couldn’t have dreamt up a better 2017 campaign for Keenan Allen. After years riddled with injuries, and a 2016 season that ended after just one quarter, it was (in a sense) a “make or break” season for Allen. Playing in each of the Chargers 16 games, Allen caught over 100 balls for nearly 1,400 yards and six touchdowns. This stat line included a three-game stretch of at least ten receptions, 100 yards, and one touchdown in each of the games. A record-setting three-game stretch, this shows you how Keenan Allen can single-handedly affect the outcomes of games. And, at the wide receiver position, a player of that caliber is rarely found. For him to top his 2017 season off with not only a First-Team All-Pro selection, but also winning Comeback Player of The Year, is a sign that Keenan Allen will be a name to remember.
The ageless wonder himself, Antonio Gates is still a productive tight end in a limited role. Although his successor (Hunter Henry) continues to play a more prominent role in the Chargers offense, Gates is still a dangerous red-zone threat with a tremendous ability to create space. Although his numbers don’t jump out to you (30 receptions, 316 yards, three touchdowns), he always seems to catch the big ones. A prime example of this is week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unarguably the biggest game of Los Angeles’ season, the Chargers were trailing 6-10 early second quarter in a rowdy Arrowhead Stadium. And with nearly no momentum on their side, Antonio Gates somehow wrestled his old body open for a 10-yard touchdown and gave the Chargers a must-needed lead. And although Los Angeles went on to lose that game, that one play perfectly encapsulates Antonio Gates’ career. Despite the circumstances, Gates will always be the most reliable option on the field. So as we gear up for possibly the last run of this historic career, let’s all remember, never take a legend for granted.
Finishing up his sophomore season, Hunter Henry has already shown flashes of an elite NFL tight-end. Incredibly productive, of passes targeted at him, corralling in over 570 receiving yards on the year. Additionally, Henry catches over 72% of his targets and averaged 41.4 receiving yards per game on just three targets. Ranked as the second-best tight end in the league by Pro Football Focus, if Ken Whisenhunt can implement Henry in as a crucial part of Los Angeles’ offense, I see no reason why he can’t become a multi-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro member.
Overall Grade: A-
–Travis Baker is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @SportsFollower0