When drafting in the third round, NFL teams hope to find an eventual starter or at least a contributor. When the San Diego Chargers selected Keenan Allen in the third round of the 2013 draft, they hoped he would help their receiving corps, but not even they could have envisioned his play thus far.
The rookie delivered in a big way on Monday night, and over the last three games Allen has 20 receptions, 302 yards receiving, and two touchdowns. In short, he has made his presence known. By comparison, Vincent Brown was selected by the Chargers in the third round of the 2011 draft and had 19 receptions all season for 329 yards and two touchdowns. That is not to disparage Brown but shows how quickly Allen has started to contribute.
He’s also establishing some all-important trust with quarterback Philip Rivers.
“Being a starter now, you’ve just got to develop that trust,” Allen said after the win on Monday Night. “You just have to have the confidence when the time comes.”
Receivers tend to struggle coming out college more than other skill positions aside from the quarterback. Other recent third round picks are still trying to figure the league out or are out of the league entirely. Brandon LaFell of the Carolina Panthers is just starting to step up. Jordan Shipley was drafted in 2010 and is out of the league. DeVier Posey and T.J. Graham, who were third round selections last year, have yet to make an impact.
Allen was a first-round talent but he was injured during his junior season at Cal. He could not work out at the NFL combine but was able to run routes at his pro day. Due to the injury he was not himself at his pro day and his 40 yard dash time suffered. Teams that thought about taking him early were scared away.
Allen’s production has softened the blow of losing of losing Malcom Floyd for the season. He has become the de facto No.1 receiver for the team.
Before the season, the consensus was that St. Louis Rams first-round pick Tavon Austin would be the offensive rookie of the year. Austin has not exploded on the scene like everyone thought he would. With E.J. Manuel hurt and Geno Smith having an up-and-down season, Allen could start to get consideration for the award.
The season is not halfway over, and this is a small sample size, but years from now Allen could be looked upon as one of the steals of this draft.
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