The biggest surprise of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Los Angeles Chargers came in the third round, when they selected wide receiver Josh Palmer with the 77th pick. General manager Tom Telesco and head coach Brandon Staley decided that loading the WR position with plenty of depth was the move to make. With stars Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at the top of the depth chart, the WR position is now filled with potential. There are currently 10 receivers on the roster, with three players who will likely compete for the third spot on the depth chart.
Who is the Chargers’ WR3?
Allen and Williams are clearly the starters, but the next man up isn’t locked. Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson split time as the WR3 last season. Guyton caught 28 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns, and Johnson caught 20 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns. Both stepped up and provided Justin Herbert with speed and separation, which allowed Herbert to really showcase his arm.
It will be likely that Guyton and Johnson piggyback off each other, as they did last season. What will be different heading into the 2021 season is they now have more competition fighting for reps. Josh Palmer will be right there as well. Palmer is a playmaking receiver that caught the eye of Staley by accident. Staley admitted that he was watching defensive back film and kept seeing Palmer show up in plays. The former Volunteer is known for stepping up his play against tougher opponents, like Alabama and Georgia, which evidently led to him being drafted by Los Angeles.
Palmer finished his four-year campaign at Tennessee with 99 receptions, 1,514 yards and seven touchdowns, along with one rushing touchdown. His numbers are not eye-opening, but they show potential, as he has a lot of experience playing in the SEC. It will be expected, as a third-round pick, that Palmer will get his chance to compete during training camp. He’ll also get three preseason games to showcase his talent, something the 2020 rookies were not able to do. Palmer may be one of the most underrated receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft class, which had a ton of talent in the position. Back in 2019, Palmer snagged in one of the prettiest touchdown catches of the entire season.
As stated earlier, Palmer is a playmaker. He steps up when it matters and should give Herbert a much-needed target in the red zone, where he excels even more. His route-running is elite and will get even better playing alongside Allen. Herbert has to be excited about this pick, because that duo could be primed for success for years to come.
Chargers Wide Receiver Depth
The rest of the WR group is filled with Joe Reed, KJ Hill Jr., Jason Moore, John Hurst and Elijah Stove. With just a handful of reps combined between those five, it is unlikely any of them get serious playing time. The Chargers drafted Reed in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, then Hill in the seventh. Because of the pandemic, neither of them had a real opportunity to prove themselves, with zero preseason games and a shorter training camp. With a full season and offseason under their belt, keep an eye out for those two in the return game and at receiver every once in a while.
Chris Beatty is the new wide receiver’s coach and will have a talented room to work with. Beatty will need to make tough decisions on playing time if this corps performs to their highest potential. Herbert will throw to a fresh receiver almost every play, as we have seen that rotation is crucial in the receiver position. Allen will show out as usual and should lead the team in a majority of the stats. Williams, if healthy, is one of the best jump-ball receivers in the league and can be a matchup nightmare to any defensive back. The third spot will consist of Guyton, Palmer, Johnson and possibly Reed, if needed. Guyton is the favorite to take charge and earn most of the reps, although, with a brand new coaching staff, we could see something unexpected.
One thing is for certain, this offense will be a force to be reckoned with for any defense.
Projected Chargers WR Depth Chart
- Keenan Allen
- Mike Williams
- Jalen Guyton
- Tyron Johnson
- Josh Palmer
- Joe Reed
- Jason Moore
- KJ Hill Jr.
- John Hurst
- Elijah Stove