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Every Charger Fan Is Excited About the Wrong Receiver

Chargers taking three receivers shows that this team values Justin Herbert. That said, who is the Chargers receiver to be excited about?

The Los Angeles Chargers wrapped up their first draft class under the new regime, selecting three wide receivers. This regime consists of former Ravens Director of Player Personnel, Joe Hortiz, and former Michigan National Championship-winning Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh. These two guys know a thing or two about winning, and it was apparent in their draft that the Chargers receiver room was barren. These selections further prove that they are ready to make the Chargers a competitor in the AFC.

Why is Everyone Excited About New Chargers Receivers Ladd McConkey & Brenden Rice?

After the selection of Joe Alt, Charger fans were distraught, as everyone wanted a new receiver for the Chargers. Malik Nabers was staring them in the face, ready to receive the phone call to go play for Justin Herbert. That did not happen, and he went one selection after to the New York Giants. The media and Charger fans alike were begging for a receiver in round two, otherwise, this passing offense is doomed due to a lack of weapons. We all know that with weapons, Herbert can kill opposing defenses at will. Just look at this deep dive into the Minnesota Vikings game last year. This was another week without a running game.

Ladd McConkey

The Chargers knew they had to get any receiver so they moved up three spots with the New England Patriots to select Georgia Wide Receiver Ladd McConkey. McConkey is touted to be one of the best and safest selections in the draft. The new Charger receiver’s RAS score is an elite 9.34, with his speed and agility grades being elite. These are all things to be excited about, as Herbert finally has a reliable option.

All of that being said, McConkey can only do so much on his own and is not an overwhelming physically dominant type of receiver as he is only 5’11 185. Herbert’s best connections are with guys like Chargers wide receiver, Mike Williams. Look for McConkey to be a high-volume, efficient receiver for a long time in the league. Just don’t expect him to make acrobatic contested catches like someone we’ll get to…

Brenden Rice

A lot of the media coverage is currently going to the Chargers seventh-round selection, Brenden Rice. The son of the legendary receiver, Jerry Rice. Being selected at 225, when he was at one point seemingly a day two, maybe early day three lock came as a surprise for everyone. One of the best draft steals this year. This led the media and fans alike to gush over the new Charger receiver and the value he is bringing to the Chargers. Rice was already getting lofty comparisons, as he is the son of the greatest receiver to ever play the sport. The pressure on the young athlete is immense, and quite frankly unfair. Beyond being compared to his father, some outlets are comparing him to Puka Nucua. Really?

Brenden Rice was underdrafted and deserved to go much higher in the draft. The value is there, and the Chargers were smart to pick him up at the price that it took. That alone is a reason to be excited. The new Charger receiver also brings that name value, and that will get anyone to be a bit more enthusiastic about the player. Getting more into what Rice brings to the Chargers, is his ability to be a very well-rounded player who can block. Rice has the mold to be a good depth receiver who can start in a pinch. That is value in the seventh.

That being said, Rice does not have the ceiling to become the next Jerry Rice, the next Puka Nucua, or simply the next starting receiver of the Los Angeles Chargers. Especially as a seventh-round rookie. Let’s slow down the hype train, and give Rice a chance to prove himself on his own. There had to be a reason for him falling to the seventh.

Why Cornelius Johnson is the Chargers Receiver You Need to be Excited About

If you cannot tell already, Cornelius Johnson is someone that I genuinely believe can be an immense steal in the seventh round. Johnson has the traits and production of someone who should not be drafted at 253. He was five picks away from being undrafted. Let’s not forget that this one is a value selection as well. He was 200 on the 2024 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board. He was taken 53 spots later.

Cornelius Johnson’s Skillset

The Michigan Receiver was on Nate Gosney’s “My Guys” list for the Wide Receivers. It was said in that list that Johnson is a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Chargers receiver room. “The first thing that stood out to me on tape, is that he loves run-blocking. He absolutely bodies cornerbacks, which made him a perfect Jim Harbaugh fit.” This was further solidified by Assistant General Manager, Chad Alexander’s comments on Johnson. “…Cornelius Johnson might be the best blocker WR in the draft.”

Beyond his dominance as a run-blocker, which will get him plenty of playing time under Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman, Johnson is an athletic freak. An exceptional RAS score of 9.46, where he measured in at 6’2 212, with 4.44 40 time.

The mentality in the run game translates into the passing game, where Johnson uses his size to catch 81.8% of contested passes. For reference, one of the league’s most popular contested catch receivers, and a former Justin Herbert favorite target, Mike Williams recorded a 53.5% career contest catch percentage. His career high was last season with 71.4%, where he played 3 games. The newly drafted Johnson had 10.4% more of a success rate than one of the best-contested catchers in the league last season, doing so in more games. Granted, this was college football, but he did play for a national championship-winning team and showed his skills at every opportunity given.

This sentiment was further shared by Bootleg Football‘s EJ Snyder. He was quoted saying “Cornelius Johnson’s deep-ball ability and dog mentality with the ball in the air will surprise and delight Justin Herbert. Give it a week in training camp and you’ll see some fireworks made by that pair.” Pretty good praise for a seventh-round rookie receiver.

Cornelius Johnson’s Fit and Familiarity

Coach Jim Harbaugh came from Michigan and coached Cornelius Johnson his entire time in the program. For Harbaugh to specifically select him, should give fans an idea of how he thinks of the seventh-round rookie. Both Hortiz and Harbaugh did not want him to the undrafted free agent market and sign elsewhere. He wanted the rookie wideout in Los Angeles with him.

Beyond knowing Jim Harbaugh, he knows this scheme pretty well. The Chargers offense will be very similar to what Michigan ran last season, and the rookie Charger receiver is an offensive piece that can help translate the playbook language to those who are learning for the first time. That is immensely valuable for any room.

Lastly, the film matches the personality. He is a selfless player who will do anything to make the team better. Brett Kollmann had this to say about Johnson: “I didn’t find time to say this on day three so I’ll say it now, Cornelius Johnson is making this Chargers roster. Got to know him a bit at Shrine and immediately pegged him as a Harbaugh guy. Great athlete, extremely hard worker, never complained about his role. Culture builder”

Fun Fact: Cornelius Johnson grew up a Chargers fan. He talks about his fandom in the interview below while being quote-tweeted by his dad, showing off a young Cornelius Johnson in full Charger gear.

Scheme Fit

Alright, so the Michigan wide receiver, now a rookie Chargers receiver can catch the football in any situation and has the athletic potential to become a dominant X receiver in the league. But how does he fit in with the Chargers? What is his path to playing time?

As we all know by now, Jim Harbaugh is the coach of this team. They are going to be playing a tough brand of football. Run-blocking wide receivers are immensely important for this offense, and as mentioned before, Cornelius Johnson could be the best in the draft at that. He knows how to beat the hell out of opposing defenders in the run game and make key blocks to make the run game click. This is music to Greg Roman’s ears.

The Charger fan turned Charger receiver, may find himself in an uphill battle to playing time as a seventh-round rookie, as any well… seventh-round rookie would. That being said, it really shouldn’t take long for Harbaugh and Roman to use him at his strengths. His role will likely start off as a core special teamer who will likely be dominant in this new age of kickoffs. He will also get offensive snaps likely as a blocker who can motion and crack an edge, simply dominate corners on the outside, or even matchup with linebackers in the hole and at the very least, get in the way.

Once that hard-nosed role is established, I genuinely do not believe it’ll be long before the coaching staff cannot take him off the field. Whether it’s week 7 of the 2024 season, or even in 2025, Johnson can take over the “X” receiver role. The work ethic, athletic ability, coaching familiarity, and selflessness will all lead to Johnson’s success with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Last Word on Chargers Rookie Receivers

Chargers taking three receivers definitely shows that this team is going to want to pass the football. They value Justin Herbert. Rice will be that long-term depth player who will contribute when asked. McConkey will be that long-time reliable starting receiver, but Johnson brings something different. Simply put, McConkey can be Herbert’s best friend in the passing game, but Johnson will be Herbert’s “get-out-of-jail-free” card. That is something you cannot put a price on.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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