NGSC Sports

San Diego Chargers: Keenan Allen A Draft Gem

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There is a saying, “Luck is when hard work meets opportunity.” I was at the game when the San Diego Chargers visited the Philadelphia Eagles in the second week of this season. Keenan Allen was relegated to a reserve role and watched most of the game from the sideline. Malcolm Floyd was playing really well before suffering a season ending neck injury. The injury opened the door for the third round draft pick, and he took full advantage.

Allen fell to the third round of the 2012 NFL draft because of concerns about a knee injury that he suffered during his junior year. As a result, he ran a slow forty time and many teams shied away from him. The Chargers took a chance on him and it really paid off.

There has been a gradual improvement from week to week for Allen and he is earning the trust of his quarterback Phillip Rivers. That trust was a major factor in Rivers looking Allen’s way on his touchdown reception during the Monday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers explained; “Those are the kind of trust-building plays that you have to make. You don’t make that play until you make that play. That doesn’t come up like that ever in practice. So you don’t really know until you throw it — ‘Is he thinking what I’m thinking?’ And then when you make it, you’re like, ‘All right, check mark on that.’ You build confidence that way, by making plays in games like you did today.”

I remember watching the University of California play during Allen’s sophomore season. He established himself as one of the top wide receivers that year. Bill Polian, former general manager of the Colts was at the Cal vs Stanford game that year. He left that game very impressed with Allen and even went to the length of comparing him to Reggie Wayne.

Allen has put together two straight 100 yard receiving games. His average yards per catch is a very impressive 14.4 yards. He is a threat mostly across the middle because of his ability to use his big frame to shield defenders from the ball. It is no coincidence that one of his favorite receivers in the NFL is Anquan Boldin. He stated that on the show Game Changers with Steve Mariucci. Allen is becoming the kind of player that is capable of having an impact on games.

Teams will begin to key on Allen a bit more now that he has shown potential to be a number one receiver. Antonio Gates was the focus of opposing defenses which has allowed Allen to rarely see double coverage. However, Allen had two defenders on him and still made a big time play by catching a 22 yard touchdown pass against the Colts.

Rivers targeted Allen 12 times in their most recent game. It may not be that way every week. Rivers is just looking to continue to build with his rookie receiver. “Sustain the confidence, the trust and the consistency. It may be a four-catch week next week, but his play is going to be key — being there when his number is called.”

The future is bright for Keenan Allen. He has worked hard to come back from his injury and be ready to play. He went through some difficult times before and during the draft but he has landed in a great destination.He was held back from reaching his potential at Cal because of some spotty quarterback play by Zach Maynard his half brother. Having a quarterback like Phillip Rivers that throws one of the best deep balls is major benefit for Allen. There is no reason not to expect the success of this combo to continue.

 

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