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Brandon Staley Sees 'Complete Receiver Group' in L.A.


Throughout the course of his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, quarterback Justin Herbert threw 31 touchdowns to nine different receivers.

His pass catchers were a combination of established veterans, undrafted free agents and maybe the best route runner in football. Fullback, running back, tight end or wide receiver – it didn't matter.

Last week, new head coach Brandon Staley praised several of the offensive pieces that surround Herbert, including a wide receiving corps that possesses a collection of traits important to team success.

"The offensive coaches in the league, and a defensive coach would tell you, that the hardest teams to defend are teams that have a complete receiver group," Staley said. "Coming into this opportunity, I would certainly look at our receiver room that way."

The group is led by Keenan Allen, who has at least 97 catches in each of the last four seasons. In 2020, Allen had 992 receiving yards and tied a career high with eight touchdowns in 14 games.

Over the last three seasons, Mike Williams has averaged 17.29 yards per reception – the highest in the NFL (minimum 200 targets). Last season, Williams caught 48 passes for 756 yards and five touchdowns.

Los Angeles' top-two targets also complement each other as well as any duo in the NFL.

"You have Keenan that can play outside and in the slot," Staley said. "He's one of the premier wideouts in the game. You have Mike Williams, who is a tremendous level three player outside, but I think that inside, this guy can play even better. He's such a tough cover from a matchup standpoint because of his size, speed, and body control."

The Chargers knew what they had in Allen and Williams entering the 2020 season. It didn't take long for a pair of undrafted speedsters to announce themselves as bona fide threats in L.A.'s deep-passing attack.

"We've got these two young guys, T-Billy [Tyron Johnson] and Jalen Guyton, who can roll. They are legit 4.3 [40-yard-dash speed] guys, and when you have guys who are legit 4.3 and can get deep on you and take the top off the coverage, it just opens up a lot more in the passing game."

In Week 2 vs. Kansas City, Guyton caught the first touchdown pass by a Chargers player in SoFi Stadium history. He also had two touchdown receptions of 70-plus yards in Week 4 (at Tampa Bay) and Week 7 (vs. Jacksonville), respectively.

On "Thursday Night Football" in Las Vegas, it was Guyton's 53-yard reception in overtime that set up Herbert's game-winning score to beat the Raiders in Week 15.

Four of Johnson's first five receptions in the NFL went for 50 yards or more, including the first time he touched the ball – a 53-yard touchdown in Week 4 against the Buccaneers.

The group also includes a pair of selections from the 2020 NFL Draft: Joe Reed and K.J. Hill. Reed opened the season with a 46-yard kickoff return that ultimately lead to the game-tying touchdown against Cincinnati. Hill caught seven passes for 76 yards – 39 of those yards came in the Week 15 win at Las Vegas.

Outside of wide receiver, Staley said he believes he has a trio of running backs in Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley who can do all the assignments featured in the offense. In addition to 6-foot-8 tight end Donald Parham, the team signed tight end Jared Cook, who has 22 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

Herbert appears to have no shortage of targets, even ahead of an NFL Draft later this month in which the Chargers have nine selections.

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