Earlier this week, I reported on Pro Football Focus’ recent rankings of the top-32 running backs in the NFL. Among those listed, Austin Ekeler was ranked as the 11th-best back in the league. While some fans would argue he could — or should — be ranked higher, it’s not a bad place for Ek when he’s coming off a season that saw him miss six games.
PFF’s Anthony Treash took to the task of now ranking the league’s top-32 wide receivers and of course the the Bolts’ own Keenan Allen is included.
But, you may not like where he was placed.
According to Treash, Allen ranks as the 16th-best wideout in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. Again, these rankings go by their own grades and their “advanced database”, which is supposedly used by all 32 NFL teams.
Here’s what they had to say about Allen:
“Allen’s role was tweaked a bit in 2020 compared to 2019. He ran far fewer routes at the intermediate-to-deep level and wasn’t targeted above expectation at those parts of the field. He did see more shallow route targets, though. His 7.3-yard average depth of target was three yards under his previous mark as a result — the lowest of his career. And that played a big part in him producing worse on a per-route basis. Still, Allen performed admirably in that role with an 85.0 receiving grade that tied for 11th among qualifying wide receivers.”
It’s understandable to see Allen take a dip in some preseason rankings based off his 2020 season after he missed several games and failed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark by just eight yards. Like Treash states, Allen was utilized almost solely on short and underneath routes while guys like Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, and Tyron Johnson got to run deep routes the whole season. It’s a big reason why Allen averaged a career-low 9.9 yards per reception, his first season not in the double-digits.
Allen has long debated analysts and others about the lack of respect he gets as a deep-threat. He even went as far as to call out the Madden rating adjustors who disrespected him in one of the game’s recent editions. But it’s hard to give someone the proper respect in an area where they aren’t utilized all that often.
But when you’re just SO good at the underneath, get-the-chains-moving-type of routes, it’s no wonder the Chargers leaned on Allen in those situations.
Despite the respect he gets as a route-runner, he’ll never truly be lauded as a top-5 wideout in the league until he starts winning down the field on a more consistent basis. Whether that’s something he can lobby for in 2021 remains to be seen, but regardless, the Bolts fan base knows the type of talent they have in Allen and that’s all that matters to them. Let the rest of the league stay asleep, in my opinion.