As the spring wares on, let us take a look at one of the top players on the California Golden Bears, Keenan Allen. The star wide receiver was ranked by Mel Kiper Jr. as the 18th best prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he is viewed by most as a mid first-round pick. The only WR ranked higher than Allen is, unsurprisingly, Robert Woods.
Last season, Keenan Allen was one of the ten semi-finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, and he certainly has strong hands of the Biletnikoff level. The All-Pac-12 First-Team selection set the conference on fire with 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore, and all three were career highs.
As a freshman, Keenan Allen was impressive, as he hauled in 46 passes for 494 yards and five TDs. Last season, he was second in the Pac-12 in receptions and ninth in the nation in that statistic. He was also ninth in college football with 1,343 receiving yards and third in the Pac-12 in yards.
Keenan Allen never had a game with multiple touchdown receptions, but he had five games with over 100 receiving yards. He had two such games to start the season, and then followed those two performances with six catches for 85 yards in a win over Presbyterian.
However, the real streak started after that contest. In three straight losses to top conference teams Washington, Oregon, and Cal, Allen reeled off three straight 100-yard performance of the “awe-inspiring” variety. Allen had ten catches for a season-high 197 yards against the Huskies, and he then followed it up with nine catches for 170 yards to try and match Oregon running back LaMichael James blow-for-blow on offense. To finish the streak of three off, the Cal star caught a season-high 13 passes for 160 yards against the USC Trojans.
After that USC game, Allen never had a 100 yard game, but he had only two games below 75 yards thereafter. One of them was a five-catch, 61-yard performance in a victory against Arizona State. Before that game, Keenan Allen had a big performance in a loss to Stanford with six catches for 97 yards.
His least productive game of the season came against Oregon State with just three catches for 29 yards in the 23-6 win for Cal.
Keenan Allen was more productive on the road, with 43 catches for 712 yards and four TDs (16.6 yards per catch) on the road, compared to 38 catches for 437 yards and two touchdowns (11.5 yards per reception) in home games.
Another interesting split stat is that Allen was better in losses. He had three touchdowns in seven wins and three in six losses, but he had ten more catches in those six losses. Those receptions went for an average of 14.6 yards per catch, while he averaged two less yards per receptions in games that Cal won. The total receiving yardage split for Keenan Allen is 789 in wins and 554 in losses.
Allen has terrific hands and is a quality deep threat with good speed and is one of the best route-runners in college football. I think he’s right there with Woods, because if you switch which teams they play for, Allen’s production would be higher than Woods and USC. It’s a tough call because of targets and the like, and I would love to see some advanced statistics comparing both of them. It’s a little too much to say he’s better, but Allen has more upside.
One of the best players at “going up and getting” the football, Allen is the best player on Cal and provides much of the offense by creating plays by himself. His route-running and double moves that enable him to get open allow him to maintain such a high level of production. He’s one of those players who can succeed with any quarterback throwing it to him, and he is such an elusive player. There is no doubt that he is at least one of the top 20 prospects in the draft and is in my top 15 (12th).
Keenan Allen is an intelligent, hard-working, and competitive athlete who understands coverages and exploits them with his knowledge of coverage (especially zone). He has good size, so his speed and open field acceleration help this elusive wideout. He will be a star at the NFL level and has the total package. I can’t wait to watch him tear it up as a junior, because this Cal star is truly a mesmerizing receiver to watch.