COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Keenan Allen showed he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL with a spectacular season in 2017, while Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin continued to put pressure on opposing defensive backfields with their speed.
Locks: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
Looking good: Travis Benjamin
On the bubble: Andre Patton, Artavis Scott
The good: Allen had his best year as a pro. He stayed healthy, playing a full, 16-game season for the first time in five NFL seasons, finishing with 102 catches for 1,393 receiving yards and six touchdowns. During a three-game stretch from Week 11 to Week 13, Allen became the first player in NFL history to record 10-plus catches, over 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown in three consecutive games. Allen finished with 33 catches for 442 receiving yards and four touchdowns in wins over the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. The Cal product made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his pro career. ... According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers finished with 2,181 yards after catch, No. 2 in the NFL. ... Tyrell Williams (16.93 yard per catch) and Benjamin (16.68) finished No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, in the NFL in yards per reception.
The bad: Injuries and lack of practice time led to a disappointing season for rookie Mike Williams. The No. 7 overall pick finished with 11 receptions for 95 receiving yards in 10 games played. The Chargers are hopeful that with a full offseason to learn the playbook and get healthy, the Clemson product can develop into an impact player in his second season. ... According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers finished with 24 drops in 2017, tied for sixth worst in the NFL.
The money: Allen is headed into the second year of a four-year, $45 million deal that includes $20 million in guarantees. He is scheduled to make $7.5 million in base salary in 2018. Benjamin is scheduled to make $5.75 million in base salary in 2018. The Chargers could save that cash by releasing Benjamin, but he’s scored nine touchdowns the past two seasons. Benjamin should be retained. Mike Williams will make $1.36 million in cash in the second year of his rookie deal. Tyrell Williams, Burse and Davis are restricted free agents.
Draft priority: The Chargers have always done a nice job of finding diamonds in the rough at receiver late in the draft or as undrafted free agents, and that should be their strategy again as they try to fill in depth at the back end of the roster. Patton and Scott are two players who flashed during training camp last year and could compete for spots on the active roster.