The new San Diego Chargers regime clearly knows what they are doing after selecting wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round. GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy have inherited a team that needs a lot of improvement to return to its pedestal atop the AFC West, but drafts like this one will get the team there in a hurry.
The first-round selection of offensive tackle D.J. Fluker addressed a clear need along the offensive line, linebacker Manti Te'o was a steal at pick No. 38, and now the Chargers get a first-round talent in Allen in the third round. This is a selection that I gave an A- grade in my draft tracker for Bleacher Report.
Allen is an exciting playmaker that knows how to stretch the field and adds versatility to an offense, but how exactly does he fit in with the Chargers? This is actually one area where San Diego was not hurting for talent, as the team already has Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander, Robert Meachem, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal on the depth chart.
However, none of those players are superstars in this league and Allen should be able to work his way into the rotation sooner rather than later. His prototypical size at 6'2", 206 pounds means that he can be an outside receiver and give QB Philip Rivers a legitimate vertical threat.
Allen is Cal's all-time receptions leader because he has a sure set of hands, runs precise routes and knows how to find gaps in coverage. This will be an important trait as he makes the move to the Chargers because Rivers finds himself in panic mode all too much.
He was sacked 49 times last season and is often under duress. Rivers needs someone that can find space when plays break down and knows how to get open. That is one of Allen's specialties. He is instinctive and has quick burst, getting around defenders seemingly at will.
Look here as Allen finds a seam in coverage against Washington and then works his way around multiple defenders en route to a 90-yard touchdown:
Allen also has the ability to be a dynamic weapon as a punt returner, as evidenced here:
Still, it is tough to know if he will rise to the top of the Chargers depth chart in his rookie season. He could very well be the best receiver on the roster in two to three years, but there are a lot of decent options ahead of him right now.
Even with all those options, Floyd and Alexander are the only two that produced decent numbers last season. Floyd recorded 814 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while Alexander had 658 yards and seven touchdowns.
Meachem and Royal combined for just 441 yards and three touchdowns. That lack of production shows that there is clearly room for a talented wideout like Allen to step in and assert himself.
There are obvious concerns with him coming off a knee injury that sidelined him for the last three games of 2012 and the NFL Scouting Combine, but Allen looked solid at his Cal pro day and those concerns should go away sooner rather than later.
He can be plugged in on the outside or in the slot as someone that goes over the middle and makes tough catches. He can settle underneath or spread the field vertically. In other words, there is little that Allen cannot add to the Chargers offense.
He would seem to be an immediate upgrade over guys like Meachem, Brown and Royal, but he will have to prove as much to the coaching staff in training camp. Look for Allen to start the regular season as the third receiver on the team's depth chart, with the potential to rise rather quickly.