Third Round, 76th Pick
Had he been able to declare for the NFL draft following a stellar sophomore campaign, many believe Keenan Allen was talented enough to warrant mention next to Justin Blackmon.
Unfortunately, a knee injury ended a promising junior season and casted doubts on his future.
Despite not being able to work out for scouts before this month’s draft, Allen is expected to be one of the first wide receivers off the board. But is he still among the best in this class or did his injury open the doors for flashier peers? I will explore that question and more.
|+ Very good size at 6'2" 206 pounds||- Knee injury ended his season|
|+ Excellent body control, has a wide catch radius||- Lacks an explosive top gear, not a vertical threat|
|+ Quick release, creates separation||- Too many drops, lets passes get into his body|
|+ Light feet with some suddenness|
At 6’2” 206 pounds with relatively long arms and large hands, Allen looks the part of an NFL wide receiver.
Overall, he is a very impressive athlete for his size, possessing light feet and some natural quickness. He may not be a burner, but his speed appears adequate for the next level.
Unfortunately, he has been unable to work out for teams this spring, so his test numbers cannot be compared to others in this class.
A self-described student of the game, Allen is a humble, but confident individual that appears to have a strong work ethic.
His final college season was cut short by a PCL injury and he has still not made a full recovery.
Despite missing the end of the 2012 season, however, he was named a team captain as a junior.
Allen was used all over the formation at Cal, running routes outside and from the slot. He even served a as a punt returner for the Golden Bears, a role in which he was moderately successful.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford used to be credited with operating one of the most complex, pro-style offenses in college football. However, due to limitations at the quarterback position, Allen was not required to run a full route tree in college.
Unlike other bigger receivers, Allen shows the suddenness to win consistently at the line of scrimmage. He is able to accomplish this due to a combination of athleticism and technique.
Allen is quite nimble for his size, using good footwork to beat press coverage. Likewise, he is typically quick to enter his routes, gaining that ever-so-valuable initial separation.
A gifted athlete, Allen displays good body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes.
At 6’2” with fairly long arms, he boasts an impressive catch radius. Allen attacks the ball at its highest point, flashing good concentration.
He occasionally utilizes his frame to shield defenders from the ball and shows some physicality near the catch-point.
When it comes to route running, there is plenty to like about Allen, but it is not very difficult to identify flaws or inconsistencies.
He is not necessarily lacking in this department, but would benefit greatly from improving his route technique.
Though I have praised his athleticism, Allen is not very explosive out of his breaks. He does not appear to have a sixth sense in this area, as he will occasionally run routes at the wrong depth. Additionally, he is often guilty of rounding off his routes.
As I mentioned, though, there is also a lot to like. Allen changes speeds well for a big receiver and has his deceptive moments. He consistently creates separation at the short-intermediate level and is very willing to cross the middle of the field. While he could probably stand to play even more physically, he effectively uses his hands to disengage at the top of routes.
Allen looks to have a knack for finding holes in zone coverage and creating throwing lanes for his quarterback. He excels at improvising once the play has broken down.
After studying his game thoroughly, I found Allen to be a bit of a body-catcher. That is not to say he is incapable of catching the ball reliably. He actually appears more comfortable making plays outside his frame.
At Cal, I thought he dropped too many passes, but poor quarterback play was often partly to blame.
A side note on Allen’s hands, they are some of the largest in this wide receiver class, measuring 10” inches.
Run After Catch
One of Allen’s more underrated attributes is his ability to gain yards after the catch.
Utilizing good vision and balance, he fights to stay on his feet and often maximizes potential yardage.
An underrated athlete, he is light on his feet and fairly elusive in the open field. He is a shifty runner who changes speeds effectively, showing some stop-start ability.
One of the only gripes I have, however, is Allen’s lack of an explosive top gear. He is not a slow receiver, but is not overly dynamic either.
While Allen’s blocking is not a glaring hole in his game, it will have to improve at the next level.
His effort does not appear to be lacking, but his technique leaves much to be desired as falls off blocks too easily. He has shown the ability to seal, but does not use his legs in conjunction with his arms to drive defenders out of harm’s way.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
As long as he can make a full physical and mental recovery from his season-ending knee injury, Allen has the blend of size and athleticism necessary to hold down a starting spot for a long time. He is versatile in terms of where he can line up in the formation and should be able to contribute immediately if healthy.
He fits well with a team like the Steelers due to his ability to improvise and find open areas of the field when the play breaks down.
Draft Projection: Late First-Second Round