If the Los Angeles Chargers hope to sniff a Super Bowl championship in the little time that franchise quarterback Philip Rivers has left, they can’t afford to miss on any draft picks.
It seems the Chargers have been searching for an answer at the slot receiver position for some time. But whether it be a surprise draft pick, free agent or even a player already on the current roster — L.A. will have plenty options to choose from off of this list.
Here are the top five options in the slot for the Bolts heading into the 2017 NFL draft April 27.
5. Keenan Allen, WR
Chargers WR Keenan Allen is not technically a slot receiver, but with the emergence of WR Tyrell Williams, he could be a sneaky pick to move into the slot for Los Angeles.
Allen is an elite wide receiver when healthy. In just 38 games played, he has averaged 68.9 receiving yards per game and has caught 16 touchdowns. His PFF player grades have also been good in each of his four seasons: 86.6, 78.7, 80.4, and 79.4.
Allen’s style of play is perfect for the slot. He has proven he can exceed as a high-volume target, for he has averaged nearly six receptions per game in his career.
Additionally, Allen has struggled to stretch the field on the outside in recent years, averaging just 10.4 yards per catch in the last three seasons. As such, he could benefit from catching the ball closer to the line of scrimmage and extending plays with the ball in his hands early.
4. Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR
Former Stanford Cardinal RB/WR Christian McCaffrey would be an ideal addition to the Chargers, but may be off of the board by the time the Bolts decide to consider him.
McCaffrey possesses excellent receiving skills to pair with his running back prowess, and once the ball is in his hands, he has the rare ability to take it to the house.
There’s little question that if asked to be, McCaffrey could be one of the best slot targets in the NFL with a little time to work.
3. Andrew Hawkins, WR
Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is another free agent who could make a positive impact in the slot for L.A.
Despite being only 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, Hawks has elite speed as displayed by his 4.34 second 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
In 2014, Hawks showed he has the potential to be a difference-maker in the league amassing 63 receptions for 824 yards and two touchdowns as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
2. Victor Cruz, WR
Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was released this offseason and is currently still a free agent due to injuries derailing a once-promising career.
Cruz only played in six games between 2014-15 due to a knee injury, but came back last season to play 15 games tallying 39 receptions for 586 yards.
With another year to improve his health, Cruz should be able to build upon his 2016 campaign and become an impact player once again.
1. Ryan Switzer, WR
If Los Angeles doesn’t opt for an in-house solution, they could turn to the 2017 NFL draft to find their slot receiver of the future in former North Carolina Tarheels wide receiver Ryan Switzer.
Switzer is 5-foot-9, 181 pounds giving him the perfect built to use his quickness and change-of-direction ability to defeat nickel cornerbacks. Switzer used those same skills to post 96 receptions for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns as Tarheels quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target.
Switzer also added seven career punt returns for touchdowns during his career with the Tarheels, giving him immediate special-teams value as well.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.