Keenan Allen and the Disappearing Pac-12 Wide Receiver (Part 2)
As you read in part 1 of this article, Pac-12 wide receivers are going extinct. Now it’s time to examine some similarities among failed Pac-12 prospects and see if we can find a trend. Hopefully we can get a read on California WR Keenan Allen.
With Allen as our baseline, I set out to create a control group of Pac-12 receivers that are about his size (6’ 2.5’’ 210 lbs). The group consists of:
· Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2007 draft, 35 NFL receptions)
· Jason Hill, Washington State (2007 draft, 78 NFL receptions)
· Damian Williams, USC (2010 draft, 91 NFL receptions)
· Brandon Gibson, Washington State (2009 draft, 174 NFL receptions)
· And, to help demonstrate my point, Hakeem Nicks from UNC. (2009 draft, 255 NFL receptions)
The first thing that strikes me about these players is their futile yards per target rate. While the Pac-12 guys struggled to surpass 9 yards/target in their final college season, an elite prospect like Nicks was approaching 12 yards/target. It looks like Allen is in fifth place when isolating on their final season.
When considering a receiver’s market share of their offense, you want to see them gaining market share each season, indicating continued growth. If a guy ‘peaks’ in college then he usually won’t get any better once in the NFL. Note that the guys that trended upward are the guys that have had the best NFL careers. Notice the ‘plateau’ in Allen’s career.
Similarly, we want to see a player’s market share of touchdowns increasing. Williams, Nicks, and Allen are the only ones to not plateau, so we can finally say something nice about Keenan Allen.
Even though Allen gained market share in touchdowns, he was brutally inefficient in his red zone attempts and has been for two seasons. Essentially, it looks like they force fed him the ball. Note that everyone but Hill and Nicks trended downward when comparing their final two seasons.
So what does it all mean?
For the Pac-12 as a whole, I’m perplexed. While it could be as simple as saying that the best receiving prospects are going elsewhere, there seems to be more to it. The low yards per target numbers seem to indicate a lack of sophistication in how the offenses use receivers, which possibly could indicate why they struggle to make the transition to the NFL.
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For Keenan Allen, I have several questions. His half-brother was Cal’s starting QB, so he was almost guaranteed to be thrown the ball often. He has shown minimal red zone prowess for the past two seasons. Additionally, his numbers seem to indicate that he has hit a ceiling. Who knows, though? Maybe his injury shortened season could have been salvaged in the final weeks of the year. It will be interesting to see if his combine workout moves the needle. Dynasty GMs, stay tuned.