Excellent body control to make tough sideline catches
Excellent after the catch
Breaks tackles; gets yards after contact
Adept at finding soft spots in zone
Effective operating in all levels of the defense
Can get open against double teams
Gritty, plays with swagger
Capable of producing splash plays
Upside, should be a better pro
Ideal receiver for a West Coast offense
Knee injury concerns
Good, but not elite speed
Not overly big or physical
Not overly fast
Summary: You wouldn't know it by looking at the numbers, but Keenan Allen has been one of the best wide receivers in college football over the past three seasons. California's program struggled, but Allen was excellent, and unfortunately for the Bears, they were unable to tap into the potential production of one of the most athletically gifted players in the country.
Allen was one of the most sought after recruits in the nation coming out of high school. In his final two high-school seasons, he had 17 interceptions on defense with 79 touchdowns on offense. Over 50 scores came in his senior season. Allen nearly went to Alabama, but he decided to go to California so he could play with his brother, Zach Maynard.
Allen was a contributor as a freshman in 2010, catching 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. Hee put together a huge 2011 season by racking up 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six scores.
Allen was held back as junior in 2012 by subpar quarterback play from Maynard. Against Southern Utah, Allen caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. He made the most of his own error on special teams when he muffed a punt. Allen picked up the ball and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. He totaled three returns for 94 yards. Allen also played really well against Ohio State (9-80) and a talented Buckeyes secondary struggled to cover him.
Allen's best performance of the year came against Washington State with 11 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. His score was a short pass that he took the distance from over 60 yards out. In nine games, Allen totaled 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns. He got open in every game he played in 2012, but Maynard struggled to get Allen the ball. He averaged 14 yards per punt return as a junior, too. A knee injury cost Allen the final three games of the season and prevented him from working out at the Scouting Combine.
There is a ton to like about Allen's skill set. He is extremely quick, has excellent body control and is physical. Allen is a very well-rounded wide out. He uses his size and strength to run routes in the short to intermediate part of the field. Allen also has no hesitation running crossing routes and is very adept at picking up yards after the catch. There is serious potential for him to rip off a long gain on a quick slant.
Allen can run away from defenders and is fast in and out of his breaks. He is a superb route-runner who can beat cornerbacks in the short, intermediate and deep part of the field. Allen is also an aggressive play-maker who attacks the football in the air. He is strong to push defenders around to get in position and is good at fighting them off to make contested catches. Allen is generally sure-handed and is reliable to reel in tough receptions.
Allen's best fit for the NFL comes in a West Coast offense. He is a nearly prototypical for that system. Allen is phenomenal at running slant and dig routes; the staple routes of the West Coast program. He is extremely quick and sudden in the short to intermediate part of the field. Allen uses his speed to quickly get separation and open while running through traffic. Quarterbacks are going to love going to him when they have to go to a hot read with an unblocked blitzer. With Allen's ability to get open and fight off defensive backs for contested catches, he should be a real asset on third downs.
Offensive coordinators are going to love Allen's ability to function as the X (split end), Z (flanker) and slot receiver. Coaches will be able to move him around to find mismatches. Allen also excels doing the dirty work. He is an aggressive blocker in the ground game and when other receivers catch passes.
Allen is fast and has good speed, but he isn't a burner like Percy Harvin or Mike Wallace. Allen has the potential to be a No. 1 NFL receiver who could consistently produce totals like 90 catches for 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. He grades out as a first-round pick who should be a better pro than college player. Landing with a good quarterback will have a huge impact on how good Allen can be.
Player Comparison: Jimmy Smith. Watching Allen reminds me of Jimmy Smith when he was in his prime and the feature receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Smith (6-1, 213) was nearly identical in size to Allen. Tape of both players shows a combination of quickness, physicality, route-running and good hands. Smith was a second-round pick by the Cowboys in 1992. It is hard to believe that he was cut by Dallas and Philadelphia before becoming a five-time Pro Bowl pick and two-time All-Pro with the Jaguars during a 13-year career. Allen's playing style is reminiscent of Smith, but no team should expect Allen to be as good a pro as Smith.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, St. Louis, Minnesota, Green Bay, Houston, New England, Baltimore
Allen's knee injury and his inability to work out for NFL teams makes it harder to project which part of the 2013 NFL Draft he will go off the board. It also is possible that Allen could go to a surprise team like Pittsburgh, Chicago or Indianapolis.
The earliest that Allen is in play would be to the Bills with the eighth-overall pick. They need more talent at wide receiver, but it seems unlikely that Allen will go in the top 10.
The Rams have two first-round picks, and Allen would be a great fit in their offense. St. Louis needs a true No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford and Allen could be that. He makes a lot of sense for the Rams at pick No. 22.
The Vikings have picks at No. 23 and No. 25. Even though Minnesota signed Greg Jennings, the team needs to get more receiving help. Allen could easily go off the board with one of the Vikings' first-round picks. Allen could be Christian Ponder's No. 1 receiver for the long-haul.
The Packers don't typically target receivers in the first round, but if Allen is the best player on the board, he could make sense for Green Bay.
Houston needs help at wide receiver. Andre Johnson is starting to slow down, and the Texans could grab Allen to be his eventual replacement as the primary receiver.
New England needs more receiving help and a long-term No. 1. The Ravens traded Anquan Boldin away, and Joe Flacco is going to need more weapons for Baltimore to get a return on the massive investment it made in Flacco.