Keenan Allen of Cal is the best wide receiver in college football today and should be not just a top pick in the draft, but also in consideration for the Heisman. Allen is going to have an amazing year in Jeff Tedford's offense again.
It's not often that Cal picks up a receiver who is the best in the country, but they did just that when they got Allen to commit. Allen has all the tools to be a top-10 pick and Heisman winner, and it's time to explore what makes him so good.
Whenever teams look at wide receivers, the biggest thing they look at first is his size and speed. The ideal height and weight for a receiver is 6'5", 235 lbs like Calvin Johnson, but obviously smaller receivers succeed. Receivers are also supposed to be extremely quick as they have to get around tremendously athletic corners.
At 6'3" 210 pounds, Allen is in an NFL size grouping. His body style looks like 2011 No. 4 overall pick A.J. Green's. He also has the ability to add more muscle to his frame if need be. However, if he has filled out, that is not an issue at all as he still has amazing size.
His speed looks like it should be in the 4.45 to 4.55 range at the combine in straight line. However, he gets good burst off the line and accelerates in and out of his cuts. That is tough to defend by any cornerback, and he's made many a cornerback pay for it on his slant routes.
Good route running is essential for any wide receiver at any level. Allen has shown a mastery of it. In his slants, outs and his ins, posts and corners, he is almost unbeatable in terms of talent as a route runner.
At 0:45 in the video, notice how he runs a simple out-route. He runs his five yards, sits in his cut and then gets separation after the cut for a wide-open throw. It's a small detail, but it's something he does in every route he runs.
By running great routes, he makes it easier to get separation and makes Zach Maynard look like a much better quarterback than he really is. He also is able to spot soft spots in the zones and make plays after the catch with his ability to finish routes.
Body control and positioning are two of the biggest underrated attributes that wide receivers need to succeed. Allen has them in bunches. Body control is the ability to adjust in mid-air to make a catch, while positioning is similar to boxing out in basketball and making sure that as a receiver, you are the only one able to make the catch.
At 1:00, notice how he pushes the two defenders into each other with his route running and cuts back open. However, the ball is underthrown, and he has to adjust for it. Using the step of separation created by his double move, he lays out for the ball and catches it for the touchdown.
Allen is excellent whenever he jumps in the air to make a catch as he is able to pluck the ball out of the sky with his excellent body control. All receivers can catch, but not all receivers have the ability to glide around a cornerback like Allen does at the 0:43 mark.
The best of the best receivers can take a five-yard pass and turn it into a touchdown at any spot on the field. Allen is no different. He has been able to use his yards-after-catch ability to create great gains for the Golden Bears on offense.
At 1:38, he takes a quick three-yard slant and turns it into a 42-yard gain. How he does it is how it should be taught to every receiver. He follows his blocks in almost textbook fashion, then bursts through the defense inside of his rushing lane.
By being able to do this, he has the ability to create the yardage needed to generate a Heisman hype. It doesn't hurt that he is Maynard's favorite target and will see quite a few slant routes throughout the year. That has seemed to be the bread-and-butter route for Allen, and it's an ideal one to gain yards-after-the-catch on.
The most important thing for a receiver to do at any level is get open. Part of getting open is knowing where to find the soft spots in zone coverage. Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White of the Falcons make their paychecks on this ability.
In the video above, scroll to the 1:55 mark. Allen runs his route but notices that his quarterback is scrambling. He rolls with his quarterback into a wide-open hole in the zone and catches the ball for a first down.
At this point, Allen is an excellent receiver and could definitely end up in Heisman consideration with a great statistical season. He at least deserves the Heisman hype as he is the best receiver in the country and will be an excellent pro.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.