When people watch Keenan Allen, they see a receiver with soft hands who has the ability to make defenders miss and gain yards after the catch. A receiver who has stellar route running and isn’t afraid to go over the middle. And a receiver who has outstanding athletic ability, proving such by hurdling over one Bronco and trucking another for a touchdown during a nationally televised game.
The last sentence didn’t come from my mouth. It was from a non-Charger fan who happened to catch that Thursday night game.
His words after: that guy is going to be a future star.
The 2013 third-round pick undoubtedly came in with minimal expectations last season, as he was on the back-end of a crowded depth chart. Unfortunate injuries to other teammates forced him into the starting lineup, and boy did he show up. He racked up 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. Not only that, but Allen was honored with the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award.
Allen will look to continue his dominance and avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump,” and it already looks like he turned what might be his only weakness into a strength.
Wright recently shadowed Allen on a go route. Allen, whose quickness off the line is among his strengths, earned initial separation. That was fine; Wright had seen it from the wide receiver before. The cornerback applied his countermeasure, superior top-end speed, only to learn what others at Chargers Park have about the second-year NFL pro. He is moving at a different speed – Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego, on Allen’s training camp progression
More brownie points for Allen. Increasing his speed gives him the ability to add another dimension to his game, opening up the playbook for bigger–and better–things.
“I’m a deep threat now,” a smiling Allen said to Gehlken.
His longest play of 2013: a 43-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers during the Giants game. It was his only +40 catch of the entire season. Out of 104 attempts, Allen hauled in 71 receptions, good for a 68.3 percent catch rate; but of those 71 receptions, only eleven went for deep left/middle/right plays, per Pro Football Reference. His strength was snagging quick passes and making plays after the catch (10.1 average yards gained).
Being 6-foot-2, the versatile Allen has the capability of being a deep threat. He could essentially turn into a receiver with the best all-around game. Pairing him with the Chargers’ actual deep threat in the 6-foot-5 Malcom Floyd would create havoc for opposing teams’ secondaries. The key to all of this: the Chargers won’t be limited to just quick slants and crossing patterns, which will keep opposing defenses on their heals.
Just recently one of my co-workers said to me, “Honestly, ever since Vincent Jackson left I don’t even know who any of the Chargers’ receivers are.” My response to him: Keenan Allen..get used to the name because you’ll be hearing it a lot.