University of California wide receiver Keenan Allen announced his intention to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft on Wednesday, and he immediately goes toward the top of the rankings of draft-eligible wide receivers after a stellar three seasons for the Golden Bears. Despite missing the final three games of the 2012 season with a left knee injury, he is the school’s all-time leader in receptions (205) and also ranks in the top 10 in school history in receiving yards (2,570-third) and touchdowns (17-seventh).
Allen’s best season came as a sophomore in 2011, when he had 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns and was named First Team All-Pac 12. He also led the team in receptions (61), yards (737) and touchdowns (six) this past season despite missing three games, and was named All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention. Allen also set a school record for receptions by a freshman in 2010 with 46, surpassing the previous record of 38 by current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Let’s take a closer look at Allen’s strengths and weaknesses and how he projects to the next level.
– Has good size (6’3″, 210 lbs.) and exhibits good physicality
– Shows good agility, balance and vision after the catch
– Is a precise route runner
– Was productive in college despite being the focus of opposing defenses and not having an elite quarterback
– Lacks elite acceleration
– May struggle to create downfield separation, based on pure speed, at the NFL level
– May not wow scouts with his timed speed
Allen will have to prove his knee is healthy during the pre-draft process, and the injury is sure to be scrutinized heavily by any team that has interest in drafting him, but otherwise there should be little concern about his ability to succeed in the NFL. He would best project to a West Coast offense-type passing offense that accentuates his strengths, not unlike what he played in at Cal under former coach Jeff Tedford.
Allen has a good chance to be the first wide receiver drafted next April, and a couple of early mock drafts have him going in the top-15 overall picks. Plenty of teams that look likely to have a first-round pick somewhere in that range need a wide receiver, most notably the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets.