Since the departure of Vincent Jackson following the 2011 season, the Chargers had been missing a go-to guy on outside of the offensive formation. Through some brilliant scouting by Tom Telesco, the Bolts appear to have found that man in the form of third-round pick, Keenan Allen. Allen was a top wide out prospect entering his final year at Cal, but fell in the draft due to injuries which contributed to his poor forty time. Nonetheless, Telesco took the risk, and it appears to have hit big with last year’s Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year. Allen finished 2013 with 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns, and has said he feels even faster entering this season. Yes, the Chargers have found a No. 1 wide receiver for years to come, but after Allen, the battle for snaps at wide receiver is wide open.
Three veterans would seem to have the inside track for the next spot on the wide receiver depth chart. Coming off a near career-ending neck injury, Malcom Floyd is back and ready for action. Before being injured last season, Floyd was coming off four straight years of 700-plus receiving yards, and has been one of the most consistent Chargers. If Floyd is healthy, he will no doubt be a big contributor for the Chargers in 2014. However the other two vets at wide out, Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown, have something to prove this season entering the last years of their contracts.
Royal is the only player on San Diego’s official depth chart listed as a kick returner, but health concerns have kept him from helping in special teams. If Royal can contribute in the return game, and provide skill in the slot, he will have no trouble making the roster.
After jumping on the scene in 2011, and being dubbed as Philip Rivers’ next big target, Vincent Brown has yet to explode into a premier wide receiver. He missed all of 2012 with a broken ankle, and had a decent bounce-back year in 2013. Brown needs a productive season in order for the Chargers to keep him moving forward.
These three veterans will be looking over their shoulder at the young players attempting to take their spots. Two of these players, Dontrelle Inman and Tevin Reese, have the best chance at surpassing the veterans in front of them. Inman was a signing late in the 2013 season from the Canadian Football League. We did a feature on Inman back then, and think he could be a real surprise in Chargers camp this year. Tevin Reese was the Chargers final pick in this May’s draft. Reese is very raw, and a bit slight to play in the NFL, but he does one thing no other receiver in San Diego can do: take the top off the defense. Reese ran a 4.4 forty at the combine and registered a 41-inch vertical, but was apparently clocked at 4.31 in the forty with a 45-inch vert at Baylor’s Pro Day. Reese weighs only 163 lbs, but could help the Chargers in the return game while he waits to make an impact in the offense.
Other receivers on the roster include special teams ace, and Kansas City game hero, Seyi Ajirotutu. “Tutu” will likely make the roster for his versatility, but shouldn’t be expected to be a huge contributor on offense. The Chargers also have a group of undrafted free agents (Torrence Allen, Breland Chancellor, Javontee Herndon, and Micah Hatfield) looking to find a spot in the NFL. Of note is West Texas A&M alum, Torrance Allen. Allen hauled in 123 passes for 1,668 and 12 touchdowns last season marking his second straight year of gaudy numbers. Allen is a sneaky pick to make the Chargers roster and was a solid UDFA signing.
The Bolts have a lot of players capable of filling in across from Allen, but will need one to emerge above all the others for the offense to continue its exceptional pace.