The Los Angeles Chargers have an interesting group of wide receivers. Two proven stars, one deep threat, and a group of other young receivers (most in their second year now) with a fair amount of promise. It’s not entirely clear just how the depth chart after Keenan Allen and Mike Williams is going to look this year, in part because last year the chart was settled based on a certain type of receiver Anthony Lynn was looking for – Brandon Staley might have different ideas in mind altogether. We also don’t know if Williams will even be around after 2021. Tyron Johnson is one of those young receivers, and he already showed some promise in 2020 – and showed enough versatility to ensure that he could be in a position to remain a contributor.
Future Possible Los Angeles Chargers Stars: Tyron Johnson
First, an Introduction
Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton, who played the third and fourth spots at the wide receiver position, were both undrafted players. Johnson actually had been with the Chargers in 2019 as well – he went undrafted the year and bounced around with four different practice squads before settling with the Chargers.
Before the start of the 2020 season, it was believed that the new rookies K.J. Hill and Joe Reed would be the next receivers up – but they were closer to slot threats, and Lynn wanted a deep threat at WR3. So, Guyton ended up getting the nod. That ended up working out fairly well, as Guyton brought in 28 receptions for 511 yards and three touchdowns – quite respectable numbers for a backup receiver.
Johnson’s 2020 Season
Johnson initially started as a very rotational receiver on the depth chart. His only looks early on were deep passes – which is how he caught the first pass of his career, a 53-yard bomb in Week 4. His next few catches over the next several weeks were also primarily 50-yard-or-more bombs. Up until December, he didn’t even have more than two catches in a game.
However, Johnson unexpectedly got a bigger role in Week 14 and brought in six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, showing that he could do more than just catch the longer passes. Notably, he had more yards than any other Chargers receiver that day. Due to Allen and Williams both being banged up and having limited snaps, he had a big role in the very next game as well and ended up with 61 yards and another touchdown. He got fewer catches over the final two games but still was on the field for a higher percentage of snaps compared to earlier in the season. Johnson finished with 20 catches for 398 yards and three touchdowns.
Guyton remains the presumed WR3 for the moment, which is fair. He’s definitely a solid deep threat, but Johnson could end up working his way onto the field more. Johnson seems to have higher upside based on the fact that he can both bring in the deep passes and take the shorter bullets and run with them. If nothing else, this gives him a little more utility than some of the other young receivers. Also, his hands seem to be a little more reliable than Guyton’s, who had some occasional drop issues.
Of course, his role and the other young receivers’ roles may be dependent upon just what kind of offense Staley wants to run, and what he prioritizes in his receivers. That may keep them in similar roles to last year, or Johnson might move up to WR3. Or K.J. Hill and/or Joe Reed may even get bumped – it still feels like we haven’t entirely seen what those two are capable of. Regardless, Johnson has shown the most utility so far out of this group of young receivers. And depending upon whether Mike Williams stays after the final year of his rookie deal or not, whoever stands out the most could even be in a position to end up at the second receiver spot opposite of Keenan Allen. That is a year away, and we won’t speculate here the fate of Williams next year before this season has even started. This is just a possible scenario – one that Johnson could end up being the winner in if he continues to get opportunities and play well.
Last Word on Tyron Johnson
The Chargers are ultimately in a fairly good situation with their corps for 2021. They have their two star players, and then a nice group of younger players with some level of promise. Despite Jalen Guyton being the first of the bunch that probably comes to mind after Allen and Williams (and not unfairly so), Tyron Johnson shouldn’t be overlooked either. He’s one more weapon that’s quite capable of making things happen with the ball – especially with a talented quarterback like Justin Herbert throwing to him.
Embed from Getty Images