Over the coming weeks, we'll be checking in with the Chargers' position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with WR Coach Phil McGeoghan.
Chargers.com: We talked about the vets earlier, now let's focus on the younger wideouts. There is a lot of competition with some very talented young players. What are your thoughts about the competition and upcoming battle among the young guys looking to make this team?
McGeoghan: It's an intensely competitive group. I'm excited to see how this all unfolds. My job is to make sure everybody gets close to the same amount of reps, and give them a great chance to be evaluated. To put these guys in a great position to improve and be evaluated. We want them all to showcase to everyone in this building what they can do.
Chargers.com: We took Dylan Cantrell in the sixth round. How'd the rookie look this offseason, and what do you want to see out of him this preseason and in training camp?
McGeoghan: Dylan is a big, physical guy with very good ball skills. Obviously transitioning from college to the NFL is difficult for young players. He's done a great job so far. He had a great spring and had the most reps of any player at the receiver position. He's gotten some reps with the ones and made plays. He's learned the offense. He's very smart. Another common thread in this room is that these guys are very smart players and very good people. He fits right in. We give these guys tasks all the time. Little things. One is that the rookies get snacks for the players, and it sounds really funny, but he organized the snack cupboard _so_meticulously that the guys have never seen anything like that before. He's just really detailed. He's a great kid. He understands what his role is and how he can help, but he's got a long way to go. But I will always bet on toughness, intelligence and high-character guys. And that's Dylan.
Chargers.com: Artavis Scott looked pretty good out there – how does he fit into this offense?
McGeoghan: That's the one I've been waiting for you to ask me about! He's a guy who I have known for quite some time. I had him when he was a freshman at an overnight camp at the University of South Florida. He was an eighth grader going into his freshman year, and I saw this little guy who was tough and competitive. He had a little edge to him as a young player, and I loved it. I've seen him develop and evolve. He's another guy who I am looking for big development (this summer) because he had a great spring. He caught a ton of balls. I think he had the second-most reps behind Dylan. Well over 100 competitive reps against good competition. So, he had a tremendous spring and is another guy we're looking forward to seeing. He's worked really hard for us. He is going to be a slot receiver for us, and that player has to be the adjuster in the formations and know a little bit more than the outside guys. (Offensive Coordinator) Ken Whisenhunt is so dynamic and creative with his formations that we ask a lot in our shifts and motion packages. We ask a lot from that slot receiver. He can play outside, too, but he's done a great job in the slot providing depth there. He's learned a lot from Keenan Allen, and that will go a long way for him in his career. That will pay dividends as his career progresses.
Chargers.com: Artavis wasn't the only wide receiver who spent all last year on the practice squad as Andre Patton did as well. It's been a while since fans have seen him, so can you give an update on the former Rutgers wideout?
McGeoghan: He's a big (wide receiver). Another wonderful person. A very talented football player. His arrow is pointing up. He's developing and working hard. He's getting a ton of reps. He's been very durable and very coachable.
Chargers.com: Briefly go into each of the undrafted wideouts as there are a number of them as well as some first-year players who were on practice squads around the league. First, tell us a bit about J.J. Jones?
McGeoghan: J.J. brings speed coming from West Georgia. It's a smaller school, so the learning curve is going to be a little bit more steep, but he's done a great job. He's got some real juice. He is going to have a great summer, keep developing and keep progressing. Usually those guys from the smaller programs get into these situations, once they learn it and figure it out, they start to really have a great amount of developmental upside. So we're excited about him.
Chargers.com: How about Justice Liggins?
McGeoghan: A very good route runner. Very crafty. Good fundamentals at the top of the route. Has really strong, good hands. He's improving, and I'm excited to see him compete in the preseason games this year. I think he's going to be productive. I really do.
Chargers.com: Nelson Spruce?
McGeoghan: Again, another smart player. He came in here on short notice after a workout, and he impressed us at the workout. We signed him, and the guy has been a consummate professional. He's caught a lot of balls in the spring, and he fits right into our mold. People like him, and he's a really good player. Another one we are excited about.
Chargers.com: You are really going to have some tough decisions to make. So when it comes time to make them, how much stock do you put into their performance this spring, what they did in previous years, how they look at training camp and what they did in the preseason?
McGeoghan: It's really the whole body of work. You've got to look at it all. When we get to training camp, how do they practice against our own guys? When we get into the games, does it appear to be too big for them or are they out there cool, calm and collected? Can they make plays? Do they elevate themselves all of a sudden? Do they get into a game and you see this is the environment they were born for? These are all the things you like to look at and assess. But the biggest thing is, can we count on you? Are you the same guy every day? Are you showing the signs that you will continue to improve? These are all the things that these guys have done. It's kind of an exciting time to be a Charger. I think one of the most important things is availability. These guys have to be available to practice, and prove it. Especially the young receivers. I've been around a bunch of guys who improved early in their careers, and the one common factor among those players is they practice every single day. Very few of them every missed more than a handful of reps throughout this portion of their career. It's just so critical that they get these reps, and that they improve. So that's kind of how you look at it.
Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.