The following excerpt and attachment at the end of this post are samples from the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio on Chargers’ wide receiver Keenan Allen. The Cal prospect was my No.2 receiver in both the pre-draft and post-draft versions of the RSP despite the fact he ran poor 40-times due to a lingering knee injury. The excerpt is from my rankings profile in the pre-draft RSP. The attachment is the checklists and play-by-play reports of the games I used to grade Allen.
2. Keenan Allen, California (6-2, 206)
If it weren’t for Patterson being that rare player with other worldly talent, Allen would pose a strong argument as the best prospect in this class of receivers. What flies off the screen when I watched Allen was similar to Patterson: Allen’s ability to make defenders miss in the open field with a variety of moves that you don’t often see from one player in a game, much less within the span of a four-yard gain. Allen may lack long speed, but he is lightning-quick, and sharp with his moves, and he sees the openings in tight quarters better than many players at his position. It just so happens he’s not as quick, fast, or strong as Patterson. These two have a lot of work to have this caliber of career, but imagine Ladainian Tomlinson (Allen) in the same draft class as Bo Jackson (Patterson). It’s a little tougher to appreciate Tomlinson’s athleticism in this situation.
Allen is a more refined, consistent talent than Patterson. He is very good against press coverage and he has the strength and coordination to swat, swim, swipe, or duck through the jam and his coordination between his hands and feet is excellent. The Cal receiver is capable of excellent hard breaks with a strong plant of the front leg and sink of his hips to generate a quick stop and turn. Combined this man-to-man technique with his understanding of when and where to break against zone coverage, all he needs is the ball in his hands on-time and in stride and he’s capable of generating big plays.
That is the component of the passing game that has been missing for Allen. The Cal receiver has lacked consistency at quarterback and there were plenty of routes where with a better passer he would have displayed even more ability to catch the ball with his back to the quarterback and make plays in rhythm that sends him into the open seam with the ball in his hand. There are enough plays from him against the likes of Cal-Davis, Arizona State, and Nevada that reveal a player with awareness of the sideline, skill with sharp breaks, and the ability to make plays more than swing passes, screen passes, hooks, and crossers.
What the inconsistent quarterback play did reveal is that Allen has a wide catch radius to make plays on errant throws away from his frame. He does an excellent job digging out low passes, high-pointing throws over his head, and extending for balls head or behind him on crossing routes or hooks. He does all of this with athletic grace and grit in the face of contact. If Allen could gain another 10-15 pounds with his height and speed, he could become a more
formidable yards after contact receiver because at this point he falls when hit squarely by a defender in open space. However, the challenge for college opponents is getting a hat on Allen in the first place. And I have little doubt that this will surely be an issue for NFL defenders.
Allen’s deep speed is his greatest question mark. At worst, he’ll be a deep-ball threat only in the play action game, but given his skill to get early separation, maintain position, adjust to the football, and make plays in the open field, I have little doubt that he’ll thrive as a high-volume receiver.
Keenan Allen Sample (Click to download .PDF)
For more analysis of skill players like this post, download the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio available April 1. Prepayment is available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the 56-page Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2013 RSP at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.