A year ago, San Diego Chargers Rookie of the Year Keenan Allen didn’t participate in the NFL combine due to injury, which tied into his freefall to the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His collegiate strengths were highlighted in his first pro season, but warning signs like a flagged drug test and his injury issues made it easy for teams to gloss over Allen’s resume.
At best, Allen projected as a top-25, pick while at worst he was a second rounder. By the time the Chargers had their third pick, Allen had so much value with smaller price tag. In 2013, he proved everyone wrong, except the Chargers, rising to become the fan-favorite Rookie of the Year.
The scouting reports got it mostly right. They had listed one of Allen’s strengths as being able to create yards after catch, which stayed true once Philip Rivers started to involve Allen more on third downs. Out of his 71 receptions, 27 have been on third down, averaging 17.1 yards per catch.
Personally, I don’t put too much stock into anything at the combine. The heightened focus on 40-yard dash times isn’t conclusive of anything besides running in a straight line minus full pads. Speed isn’t everything, as exemplified by Chris Johnson, who holds the record for the fastest official 40-yard dash at 4.26 seconds. Johnson might be the fastest guy in the NFL without a Super Bowl ring.
To further capitalize the hyperbole of the NFL Draft is Antonio Gates, who has been and will be A.J. Smith’s source of pride for years. One of the all-time Charger greats was never drafted and became integral to the Chargers for the future.
When draft time comes, Tom Telesco and staff have to be trusted. Although experts and writers will have draft grades posted once the draft concludes, it’s best to let everything play out in the regular season where 40-yard times are disregarded, as they should be.