The wide receiver position hasn’t really been on the radar of many Bolts’ fans as a top priority for the team over the past two or three seasons, but the fact is that the corps in 2011 could look strikingly different from those fielded in 2010. Quarterback Philip Rivers made due with a banged up group of guys on the receiving end of his spirals a season ago, but this coming year could be yet another shake-up for the team on the outside.
One guy anxious to prove that he can provide the Bolts’ QB with a reliable set of hands this coming season will be rookie Vincent Brown from nearby San Diego State. Brown compiled some impressive numbers during his senior season with the Aztecs (69 catches, 1,352 yards and 10 touchdowns), but many clubs were hesitant about his ability to separate at the next level after he ran a pedestrian 4.71 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine.
In typical A.J. Smith fashion however, the Bolts General Manager loved what he saw on film of the local receiving product and selected him in the third round of the draft. Brown’s flawless route-running coupled with sure hands and quickness in and out of his breaks made him an easy selection for the team. When asked about his lack of speed by the North County Times, Brown simply said: “When the lights go on and it’s game time, I play fast. There’s plenty of film to prove that. I’m not a 4.7 in games. Scouts can see I’m running away from people in games, and that’s what matters most.”
Brown will definitely have the opportunity to compete for playing time right away with the Chargers who have only four receivers currently under contract and assured to be back in 2011. Only Patrick Crayton, Buster Davis, Seyi Ajirotutu, and Richard Goodman are sure-things to be around this year while many expect the team to cut ties with disappointing former first rounder in Davis when a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is agreed upon.
Of course granted that the new CBA includes a franchise tag designation as the previous one entailed, the Bolts will also have Vincent Jackson in the fold as he was given the tag earlier in the offseason. Jackson is still under the watchful eye of both the league and the team for any potential legal slip up that could cost him dearly with two DUI’s already to his name. That adds even more uncertainty to a cloudy forecast for the Bolts outside the hash marks on offense.
It is widely assumed that the team will make a strong push to re-sign wideout Malcom Floyd when negotiations are allowed to begin, but that does not ensure the team that Floyd will be a Bolt in the coming season. Many other clubs are thought to be interested in acquiring a 6’5” 225lbs. target for their respective offenses including the likes of the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders so there could be a bidding war for his services.
Rumors have been floated around the league about the Chargers pursuing Carolina Panthers’ veteran wideout Steve Smith as well when the league year begins. Smith may be on the downside of his career, but his explosive nature and big play ability is still undeniable when linked up with even a mediocre quarterback such as Jake Delhomme as showcased back in the early half of the 2000’s. Getting Smith as a number two receiver or even a slot target would help the team both on the field and in the locker room with his Super Bowl experience.
There’s no denying the fact that the receiver position used to be seen as a big strength for the team and an ultra-deep spot on the depth chart, but the fact is that those thoughts are largely misguided at this point. Rivers successfully allowed relative unknowns to look like potential Pro Bowlers with his on time, on target deliveries over the latter half of last season, but just imagine what supplying him with adequate weapons would allow the Bolts’ offense to do in 2011.
Expect the team’s front office to take a good hard look at the receiver spot over the coming months and eventually make a move to provide Rivers with more weaponry outside of the hash marks. The fun will truly begin when we as fans can watch the Bolts’ top tier signal caller operate with a full stable of receivers and reap the benefits that such an arrangement will allow. Let’s hope the 2011 season provides that potential enjoyment for both Rivers and the Chargers’ faithful.
Now let’s hear from you. How do you see the rookie Vincent Brown fitting into the team’s receiving corps in his rookie season? Do you see the Bolts finally giving up on Buster Davis and releasing him or will he be given one more year with the club? Can the team afford to re-sign Malcom Floyd or (an even better question) can they afford NOT to? What would a trade for a veteran receiver like Steve Smith provide for the Bolts as an immediate impact? Could Philip Rivers put up even more spectacular numbers in 2011 if he has a better surrounding cast at wideout or will he produce regardless of those put around him? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts and reaction!
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