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There is really no consensus as to which wide receiver is the best in this class, but California product Keenan Allen is at the top of most lists it seems and for good reason.
Standing at 6′ 2″ and weighing in at 215 pounds, Allen has established himself as one of the most physical and feared wide outs in football over the last three years. Even as a freshman Allen managed to be a solid starting option at Cal and took major steps over his next two seasons, establishing himself as one of the nation’s best wide outs despite getting very little help from the quarterback position. He even dominated against some of college’s best competition like Stanford, USC, and Oregon in 2011.
His senior year didn’t exactly go as planned due to quarterback issues and a sprain that caused him to miss three games and the Scouting Combine. For this reason, it will be worth keeping an eye on his April 9th pro day to see just how he is coming along with the PCL injury.
Allen’s size and strength make him a very powerful downfield option that is capable of bullying defenders and running through their tackle attempts. He also has a knack for going across the middle and making catches, even when it might result in major contact, which is (as you have probably figured out by now) my favorite trait in a receiver.
Allen hasn’t run a pre-Draft 40 yard dash yet, but he plays with excellent speed as evidenced by all of his game tape, and certainly won’t be knocked by any NFL scouts for his speed. The guy has elite acceleration and very adequate straightline speed that is actually a bit surprising for a guy of his size. Don’t be surprised if he runs below a 4.5 at his pro day.
The combination of speed and strength is the type that will keep defensive coordinators awake at night. Corners that tried to jam Allen in college were often disappointed in the results, as he is strong enough to dismiss them and fast enough to still get down the field for a big play. However, if defensive backs play off the line of scrimmage then Allen has the ability to take a short route and elude tackles for a big play. He is the type of guy that is capable of beating you in a variety of ways, which is exactly what the Vikings need to take their offense a step or two forwards.
If front offices let the tape speak for itself then I can’t see anyone else dethroning him as the top receiver this year. He is a do-it-all guy that can take the top of a defense, is surprisingly efficient at picking up yards after the catch, can win jump balls, is said to have great character, and has displayed proficiency on special teams. The injury is poorly timed for him, but if it isn’t thought to be a long term issue then this might just be the wide receiver the Vikings have needed so desperately for so many years.
The Vikings will have to invest their first rounder to get their hands on Allen, and even then he may not be there when they pick, but considering the shape of this passing game it would be somewhat of a no-brainer.