Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen officially declared for the NFL Draft on December 5th after a junior season marred by poor team play and a left knee injury that forced him to sit the last three games. Still, in 9 games of play, Allen averaged nearly 7 catches and 82 yards per game while recording 7 total touchdowns on the season, including one on a punt return.
Production remained consistent throughout his career despite being the focus of the defense for much of it. Allen projects solidly the first round of April’s draft should everything check out during pre draft evaluations.
Allen has surprisingly received relatively small national attention compared to other receivers in this year’s draft eligible crop such as West Virginia’s stat kings and Baylor’s Terrence Williams. Perhaps, it is because he is not considered an “elite” prospect and played on a 3-9 team. Still, Allen possesses the rare physical traits that translate to being an NFL team’s primary receiver from day one. Scouts love the way he approaches and plays the game and coaches have acknowledged how well he prepares for each opponents.
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Listed at 6-3, 210 pounds, Allen possesses a large frame with long arms to extend and pluck. Despite his length, he runs extremely well and shows sneaky deep speed to consistently get behind a defense at the next level. His most impressive attribute is his body control. You rarely see tall receivers like Allen that are able to sink into breaks and cut the way he does.
While he is still developing a full route tree, he flashes the footwork with enough consistency to believe he can execute more intricate routes with NFL coaching. He was routinely targeted on clutch throws and shows the toughness and strength to come up with difficult catches in traffic. A lot of his work came outside the numbers where he shows excellent sideline awareness and making acrobatic catch over his shoulder or contorting his body to adjust to poorly thrown balls (and there were plenty of them).
He really separates himself from other big receivers in his running ability. He surprises a lot of opponents with his initial quickness and burst after the catch and is rarely caught from behind. While he’s not quite a true burner, he shows the ability to out run angles and hit small creases in a flash. If you watch any of his punt returns, he looks like a sub 6-footer in the way he can cut and weave through defenses. He’s also a strong runner which allows him to run through ankle tackles and fall forward after contact. He is a very smooth athlete and looks alot like Dez Bryant (on the field). While he’s not quite as strong, he could have the same type of impact for a team’s offense and special teams.