Many proclaimed wide receiver Keenan Allen to be a bit of a steal when the San Diego Chargers selected him with pick No. 76 overall in the third round of the NFL Draft this past April, but not many could have envisioned the season he’s compiled to date.
Allen’s 63 catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns are made even more remarkable when you realize he didn’t even play Week 1 and only had three catches for 30 yards over the next two games. That’s 60 grabs for 901 yards and those seven scores over the course of 11 games if you do the math, and that’s elite receiver material.
What really separates Allen from most other receivers is his knack for running precise routes and using his body in the ideal way to create separation from defensive backs. Even though much of the concern about his perceived lack of speed coming out of the University of California was due to a knee injury he hadn’t been able to fully rehab, Allen still is never going to be confused for a burner. He does have enough speed and savvy presence of mind, however, to get himself open and make things happen with the ball in his hands.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has really benefited from having the rookie at his disposal this season as seen in his numbers. He’s become a more confident passer again with the ability to trust his guy to be where he’s supposed to and make the catch if the ball is delivered properly. It’s difficult to imagine what this season would have looked like without Allen in the fold.
The Bolts lost Danario Alexander to a season-ending ACL tear in training camp and have been without stalwart Malcom Floyd since a serious neck injury ended his campaign in Week 2. This thrust Allen into the immediate spotlight, and he has been remarkable filling in for both guys really. That’s what makes Allen so valuable is his ability to run any route tree effectively and line up at any spot on the field. Whether it’s the slot, out wide, or anywhere in between, this Cal product is capable of producing.
Much of the noise surrounding Allen in the preseason and build up to the year involved his proclamation to be a starter or the big blow up about him wearing an Oakland Raiders hat in a photo. On the idea of him starting you might as well call him Nostradamus. As for the Raiders cap, well, hopefully he visits the end zone against his former favorite team a few times this weekend.