The Los Angeles Chargers are poised for a strong 2018. On offense, Philip Rivers will be surrounded by a plethora of weapons and a revamped offensive line.
Melvin Gordon leads a rushing attack which should see vast improvement thanks to the addition of center Mike Pouncey and the return of Forrest Lamp at guard. Last season, Gordon found the end zone 12 times and finally broke the 1,000 yard hump.
Alongside Gordon, undrafted free agent Austin Ekeler burst onto the scene. With 539 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season, the Western State product looks to be the perfect change of pace back.
On the outside, Keenan Allen solidified his status as an elite wideout. Allen led the Chargers with 1,393 receiving yards and an otherworldly 102 receptions. Throw in dynamic targets like Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, Rivers has a ton of options to choose from.
Clearly, Los Angeles is loaded on offense. Still, there are a handful of players that are still waiting for their breakout season.
It was a rough rookie campaign for Mike Williams. The seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft made little impact for a Chargers team that just missed the postseason. Williams dealt with injuries for most of the year and was unable to work his way up the depth chart by season’s end.
Now with a fresh start, Williams should enter camp with a chip on his shoulder. He needs to prove that he belongs on the field. Although Los Angeles has depth at receiver, Williams brings something different to the unit.
There is a reason Williams was picked at the top of the 2017 Draft. He has the talent to be a starting wide receiver and should be more than able to produce in a high-powered Chargers offense.
Listen, Gordon had a strong 2017 season. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and proved he can be a legitimate receiver out of the backfield.
Still, he wasn’t one of the league’s top backs. Gordon averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, and rushed for over 100 yards in just two games. He was held in check more often than not last season, allowing for Ekeler to steal the show.
Gordon cannot be blamed for the subpar play of his offensive line last season. The unit allowed a league-low 18 sacks, but were putrid when it came to opening up holes for the running backs.
Luckily, Gordon will be in a great situation this season. He will run behind a strong interior unit, featuring Dan Feeney, Pouncey and Lamp. Simply put, there won’t be any more excuses for Gordon. He is in the best situation since he put on a Chargers uniform and will have his strongest season as a pro.
It may seem like an odd correlation, but with Hunter Henry out for the year with a torn ACL, Cantrell may be the premiere breakout candidate.
A wide receiver by trade, Cantrell is big enough to play a hybrid tight end/receiver role for the Bolts. He may not lineup along the offensive line, but in passing downs he could play the role of a tight end. Forcing a mismatch if a safety, or linebacker shades over to cover him.
Sitting at the bottom of the depth chart behind a talented receiver group, Cantrell’s best hope for meaningful snaps could be at tight end.
Bonus: Forrest Lamp
Sometimes, you need to show offensive linemen some love. The 2017 second-round pick tore his ACL before the season began. His injury was a major setback for what looked to be a much improved offensive line.
He should be a solid pass blocker, but Lamp could really transform Los Angeles’ rushing attack.
Now that Lamp will be back in the mix, there doesn’t appear to be many issues for the Chargers in the trenches. Lamp likely will start at right guard and take pressure off of tackle Joe Barksdale.
– Ryan Doyle is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @RDoyle27