SAN DIEGO -- He hasn’t received as much attention as other rookies on more prominent teams like Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy or Cincinnati’s Giovani Bernard, but San Diego receiver Keenan Allen deserves major consideration for offensive rookie of the year.
The 21-year-old Cal product expected to watch and learn his rookie year, coming off a knee injury during the second half of his final season in 2012. But with season-ending injuries to fellow receivers Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, Allen was forced into a more significant role in San Diego’s offense and proved more than ready for the challenge.
Allen fell down this year’s draft board because of the knee injury, but he’s been more productive than receivers selected ahead of him in the first round such as St. Louis' Tavon Austin, Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins and Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Allen is sneaky fast with reliable hands. He does a nice job of creating separation out of his breaks, and for a big guy, he has some wiggle to create explosive runs after the catch. Allen also has a flair for making a big play in critical moments of the game.
Some statistics to consider:
He leads all rookies with 58 catches for 843 yards. He’s two catches short of the franchise record for catches of 59 set by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. Allen also only needs 159 receiving yards to eclipse the rookie receiving yards mark of 1,001 yards set by John Jefferson in 1978. That’s not bad for the Cal receiver who did not play in the team’s first game of the season, and had a combined three catches for 30 yards in Weeks 2 and 3.
Allen has taken on the role as the team’s No. 1 receiver, quickly earning the trust of quarterback Philip Rivers. He already has a team rookie record of five 100-yard receiving games.
He leads the team in receiving yards (843), and is the second-most targeted receiver (84 targets) behind veteran tight end Antonio Gates (98).
Allen can move the sticks with 45 catches for first downs, which is No. 11 in the NFL. He also has shown some elusiveness, with 316 yards after the catch.
But among those players, Allen has had the most impact on his team’s weekly production.