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Pair of Chargers make list of best draft steals of the past decade

Keenan Allen dropped into the third round due to worries about a PCL injury he sustained as a junior at Cal.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The longest tenured player currently on the Chargers is wide receiver Keenan Allen who was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft out of the University of California. Aside from some fluky injuries that cost him the better part of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he’s been the picture of consistency for the Chargers. Prior to the 2023 season where he missed seven games due to a hamstring injury, Allen averaged 101 receptions, 1,183 receiving yards, and six touchdowns from 2017-2021.

It’s not often that a player drafted as late on day two as Allen goes on to have the type of career he’s put together, which is why he was one of two current Chargers named to ESPN’s list of the top 50 draft steals of the past decade at #17.

“Allen left Cal with the team record for receptions in a career, but NFL scouts were concerned about his lack of speed and a PCL injury he suffered late in his junior season,” says draft analyst Matt Miller. “That pushed the talented route runner to the third round. Since entering the league, he has been unstoppable, as a five-time Pro Bowler with over 700 career catches.”

Despite ranking near the top of the list, Allen was only the sixth-highest ranked wide receiver among the top 50. Tyreek Hill (#2), Davante Adams (#3), Cooper Kupp (#4), Stefon Diggs (#7), and Deebo Samuel (#14) all finished above Allen. Interestingly enough, Allen, Kupp, and Samuel are the only receivers still employed by the teams that drafted them.

As for the second current Charger on the list, center Corey Linsley was ranked near the bottom at #46. Although he wasn’t originally drafted by the Chargers, we still felt like should highlight the anchor of the offensive line.

Here’s what draft analyst Jordan Reid had to say about Linsley who was originally a late-round selection of the Packers:

“After being selected in the fifth round, Linsley was quickly forced into action after the Packers suffered injuries early in the 2015 season. He became Green Bay’s mainstay at center and held that spot for the next seven seasons before signing a lucrative free agent deal with the Chargers. Linsley has only been attributed six sacks allowed over the past three seasons.”

That last line about Linsley’s amount of sacks allowed is a bit misleading. According to Pro Football Focus, Linsley hasn’t allowed a single sack over the past two seasons and was attributed just one sack allowed during the 2020 season. During the 2019 season, he allowed five sacks which would give you your six sacks, but that would be across the past four seasons and at that point the stat is irrelevant. Linsley has been at his best while protecting Justin Herbert and I’d argue that he’s far too low on this list but that’s what happens when you play an unpopular position like center.

What do you all think of these rankings for Allen and Linsley? Should they be higher or lower? Let me know all of your thoughts below!