San Diego Chargers 2009 Roster Breakdown: WRs
In 2008, San Diego Chargers wide receivers accounted for more than 2,000 yards through the air and more than 15 TDs.
Though it's safe to say that San Diego's offense is headlined by players like QB Philip Rivers, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates, the Bolts' receiving corps is a solid group formed among others by a budding young star, an intelligent veteran, and an exciting deep-ball threat specialist.
Here's what Charger fans, opposing fans, defenses, and coaches can expect from San Diego's wide receivers this season.
Vincent Jackson solidified his stance as San Diego's main passing threat on the flanks with a 2008 season in which he netted more than 1,000 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
At 6'5", Jackson towers over most cornerbacks, and he became a favorite target of QB Philip Rivers last season.
He consistently grabbed big gains, ending the season with an 18.6 yards per reception average.
He also ran the ball effectively, turning four reverse plays into 69 yards on the ground, for an average of 17.3 yards per carry.
Pros: Jackson's size (6'5", 230) makes his speed deceptive, as he is equally likely to fly down the sideline or go over the middle to make a catch. He has excellent hands and rarely drops a pass.
Jackson has the ability to make circus-like catches with ease, turning overthrown or underthrown passes into first downs or touchdowns. He's not averse to contact, and he's been excellent in the playoffs.
Cons: Not the best route-runner, he loses effectiveness when Antonio Gates is out of the ballgame. He struggles as more pressure is focused on him, and he's had trouble with shutdown corners.
2009 Season Outlook: It's likely that Jackson won't get more than 70-75 catches as Philip Rivers likes to spread the ball around his offense, but Jackson is always a consistent threat to catch the long ball and make tough grabs over the middle of the field.
Ideally, expect eight to 10 TDs and 1,000 yards from him. Makes for an excellent sleeper fantasy pick.
Arriving in San Diego via a trade with Miami in 2007, Chris Chambers has been a frontline receiver for the Chargers since then, being a consistent target in the Bolts' passing game.
Although not the blazing speedster he once was with Miami, Chambers has matured into a consistent, dependable veteran who still commands respect from opposing secondaries.
Last season, Chambers started strong but was slowed by injuries, finishing the season with 33 catches for 462 yards and five TDs. He bounced back somewhat in the postseason, accounting for eight catches and over 100 yards total in two games.
Pros: Excellent route-runner, equally effective catching the short ball, mid-length or long ball, long arms make up for mediocre stature (5'11"), veteran presence is useful to mentor otherwise young unit.
Cons: Will be 31 when season starts, was slowed by injuries in latter portion of 2008, accruing only eight receptions over final six games of regular season, has lost a step, doesn't have size to consistently go over middle of field.
Season Outlook: Chambers has settled into his No. 2 role on the team, which in reality makes him a third option behind Jackson and TE Antonio Gates. He should have more than the 33 catches he had in 2008, but even in the best of the conditions he probably won't net more than 50.
In 2008, Malcom Floyd blossomed into one of San Diego's lesser-known but highly dangerous weapons on offense.
Usually coming in as a slot receiver or spelling either Chris Chambers or Vincent Jackson, Floyd's number is usually called upon when San Diego decides to go deep.
With only 27 catches in 2008, Floyd accumulated 462 yards and four touchdowns, with a 17.2 yards per reception average displaying his penchant for catching the long ball.
Although used sparingly (his catches all came between Weeks 6-15), Floyd made some big catches that helped win ballgames, specifically Weeks 10 and 15, both games against Kansas City, with nine grabs total and 143 yards, scoring two touchdowns in games that were both decided by a single point.
Pros: Great size (6'5", 225) and speed allow him to be one of team's primary long-ball threats, excellent acrobatic ability equals spectacular catches, great option as substitute or slot receiver.
Cons: Not the best short route-runner, unknown how effective he is with consistent playing time, will drop some balls from time to time.
Season Outlook: Floyd should continue to see limited time as the team's third receiver; his presence on the field prior to a snap usually indicates a long pass play coming in on long third-down plays and crucial situations intended to spread out opposing defenses. Expect him to top 600 yards and five touchdowns.
Another in the stable of San Diego's young, talented receivers is Legedu Naanee, the former Boise State standout that causes matchup problems with his unique blend of size and strength.
Upon joining the Chargers in 2007, Naanee has seen action at fullback, tight end, wide receiver and special teams coverage.
Officially listed as a wide receiver, Naanee made just eight catches last season for 69 yards.
Pros: Bulldozing strength makes him hard to take down, versatility can net him playing time in several positions, is option to head famed "Wildcat" offense, as he has experience as QB in college, weapon in special teams coverage.
Cons: Loaded Chargers offense severely limits playing time, doesn't possess big speed that could make him into viable outside threat, doesn't have the best hands on the team.
Season Outlook: Naanee will continue to make his biggest impact on special teams, wrangling punt and kickoff returners in a way that allowed him to get 10 tackles last season. His biggest shot at playing time at WR is an injury to someone higher up on the depth chart.
Kassim Osgood is better known around the league as a fearsome special teams star who has made the Pro Bowl twice for his unique brand of contribution.
In 2008, Osgood did not make a single catch, as he rarely even lined up at wide receiver, instead getting the majority of his playing time on punts and kickoffs, racking up 17 tackles.
Pros: Speed, size (6'5", 220) make him prototypical receiver, incredible versatility on field makes him a valuable weapon, centered leader whose off the field contributions are huge.
Cons: His great talent on special teams basically pigeonholes him into being used exclusively for that means, could be distraction as he has requested more playing time at WR and/or trade in offseason, average hands.
Season Outlook: Unfortunately for Kassim, the only way he'll get playing time as a WR is by being traded to a team in desperate need for one. He'll continue to be San Diego's star on special teams coverage and not much else.
Since being drafted in the first round by the Chargers two seasons ago, the receiver formerly known as Craig Davis adopted the moniker "Buster".
Judging by his time in San Diego, it was a bad and ironic choice to make.
Davis has battled injuries and inconsistency en route to being an afterthought in the Chargers' passing game.
In 2008, Davis made four catches in the same amount of contests, spending the rest of the season on the bench with an injury. His biggest impact came in Week 3, a victory over the Jets that saw Davis make three catches for 43 yards.
Pros: Quick, smart, finds a way to get open while running routes to the best of his abilities, large wingspan makes any ball in his neighborhood a potential catch, plenty of big-game experience as former LSU starter.
Cons: Very injury-prone, durability concerns will remain a factor in assessing his chances for remaining with the team, when healthy, hasn't been a big factor, big contract.
Season Outlook: GM A.J. Smith has hinted that this might be a make-or-break season for Davis, who will fight for playing time with Floyd and Naanee.
In his rookie season, he showed flashes of what he can do, and a healthy Davis could get more than 25 catches in 2009 despite a crowded receiving field.
Considered a mid-round prospect going into the draft, Demetrius Byrd's stock fell dramatically when he was involved in a serious car accident that left him with major injuries.
With no assurances that he'd ever return to his former self, the Chargers drafted him anyway in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The former LSU wideout was part of the 2007 team that was named the consensus national champion.
Pros: Possesses big-play ability very dear to GM A.J. Smith's philosophy regarding WRs; similarly, has good size and wingspan to match other San Diego wideouts, great arm strength that allows him to break free from jams.
Cons: Unknown if he'll ever regain the proper health and form to play in the NFL, thin build could prove to be injury-prone, has tendency to drop balls over the middle.
Season Outlook: It appears that Byrd's recovery time will eclipse the entirety of the 2009 NFL season.
Practice Squad, Undrafted Rookies
Gary Banks - Was on the practice squad last season, looks to remain there unless injuries sideline anyone higher up on the depth chart.
Greg Carr - The 6'6", 217-pound receiver out of Florida State went undrafted and was signed by San Diego in April. Lacks speed and hands. Will need to impress in preseason.
Charly Martin - 6'2", 210 pounds, out of West Texas A&M, was considered one of the top small-school prospects in the nation.
Rodgeriqus Smith - Preseason Honorable Mention All-SEC in 2008. His stock dropped off after weak senior season at Auburn.