With the release of receiver Stevie Johnson, losing Danny Woodhead to the Ravens and Keenan Allen trying to return from a knee injury, the Chargers are in need of another playmaker for quarterback Philip Rivers.
Although Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams have been productive and are great stories of undrafted players making an NFL roster, the Chargers need to bring in a big-time, high-impact receiver if they have any hope of competing for the AFC West title.
Whether it be through the draft, free agency or a trade, there are a number of offensive weapons out there for Telesco and the front office to bring in and at least warrant a tryout. As for the NFL draft, many analysts believe there are three receivers deserving of first-round grades — Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross — who will be available for the Chargers in the first round.
With the evaluations from the NFL Combine now in the books, there are a few pundits who predict the Chargers will go the receiver route rather than safety. Here is a look at those predictions and where each receiver ranked amongst some draft “experts.”
Corey Davis, 6-3, 213, Western Michigan
Ranked No. 12 overall by Scouts Inc., No. 16* by Ourlads’ and No. 12 and No. 18 by ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., respectively, Davis appears to be neck-and-neck with Williams for the top receiver slot — depending on the week. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke has the Chargers taking Davis with their first pick.
Burke: “Davis long has been considered this class’s WR1 ’round these parts. The Chargers have a very interesting collection of receivers, led by the oft-injured Keenan Allen, but Davis can be better than any of them … and soon.”
Pundits predicting Williams will be the pick at No. 7 include Cole Thompson (Draftwire), Matt LaPan (FOX Sports) as well as the UT’s Eddie Brown** (in his latest mock draft). Williams is ranked No. 15 by Scouts Inc., No. 19* by Ourlads’ and No. 15 and No. 13 by McShay and Kiper Jr., respectively.
Mike Williams, 6-4, 218, Clemson
Thompson: “With the top two safeties off the board, this turns the Chargers’ attention to the other side of the ball. Williams is a No. 1 receiver with his size, strength and ability to win in the air. Pair him up with Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin and watch Philip Rivers have a top-flight receiving corps for the rest of his career.”
LaPan: “The Chargers have a very good outside weapon on Keenan Allen, but his injury history is making it so the newest team in Los Angeles need to draft more help for Phillip Rivers. Mike Williams has the size, speed and athletic ability to be a true number one receiver in the NFL.
Williams has a solid 6-3 frame with good muscle distribution, long arms and big hands, all the physical traits one looks for in an outside receiver. He has good strength and quick feet, allowing him to get off the line clean more often than not. Williams also showed endless resolve in returning from an injury to be one of the top targets in college football.”
*The rankings by Ourlads were posted prior to the combine. **In his first mock draft Brown had the Chargers selecting Alabama OT Cam Robinson.
The Endzone: Post combine head scratcher — It never ceases to amaze how much emphasis is put on a players’ performance at the combine as opposed to their actual performance on the field during their college career. Williams is the perfect example. Considered one of the top two receivers entering the draft, he is now being down graded for failing to run the 40-yard dash for the scouts at the combine last week. On March 4 Rotoworld posted: “Add Williams to the list of Combine ‘losers.’ He elected not to run the 40-yard dash — draw your own conclusions on that one — and then posted a poor vertical as a jump-ball specialist. There was one positive. Williams logged a strong 10-foot-1 broad jump at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds.”
Three days later on March 7, Rotoworld posted: CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang believes that Clemson WR Mike Williams could slide out of the top 20 picks. “Rang refers to Williams’ “lack of juice” during positional drills as “alarming.” The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder chose not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend, always a decision bound to raise a few eyebrows for players coming to Indianapolis with questions surrounding their top-end speeds. We saw a similar situation with Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell last spring. Treadwell did not run the 40 at the Combine in 2016 and was ultimately drafted by the Vikings with pick No. 23.”
Some advice for Williams — keep a copy of every negative report printed and use it as motivation to prove it all wrong and google wide receiver Steve Smith. Feeling disrespected after being drafted in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft (74th overall), the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Smith played with a chip on his shoulder throughout his entire 16-year career and posted numbers that will likely land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Smith never forgot the negative evaluations he received from the different scouting experts leading up to the ’01 draft, Williams shouldn’t either.