Despite feeling like a California kid through and through, Keenan Allen was actually born and raised on the other side of the country in Greensboro, North Carolina. He attended both Grimsley Senior High School and North Guilford High School where he starred in football, basketball, and track & field. In 2009, Allen was a USA Today, Parade, and Army All-American selection. He was also ranked as a five-star recruit by both Rivals.com and Scout.com and initially committed to play safety at Alabama but switched his pledge to play at Cal-Berkeley where he’d get the chance to play receiver and join his half brother, quarterback Zach Maynard.
Allen was a three-year starter for the Golden Bears from 2010-2012. He caught 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman, wasting little time in showing the college football world that he was ready to make an impact from the very beginning.
Allen broke out as a sophomore with a career-high 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. His numbers took a hit as a junior due to an injury that cost him multiple games but he still managed to catch 61 passes for 737 yards and another six scores. Overall, he left Cal with a school-record 205 receptions that went for 2,570 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Allen was invited to the NFL Combine but chose to forgo running the 40-yard dash. He posted a 32 3/4” vertical jump and measured in with 10” hands. Later at his pro day, Allen was clocked in between 4.71 and 4.75. While those numbers underwhelmed for a NFL wide receiver prospect, Allen’s talent was undeniable. The Chargers eventually took him in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft.
As a rookie, Allen started 14 games en route to leading the team in receiving yards with 1,046. He was third on the team in receptions with 71 behind both Antonio Gates (77) and Danny Woodhead (76). His eight touchdowns were tied for the team lead with veteran Eddie Royal.
After a 77-catch, 783-yard season in year two, Allen began the 2015 season on a tear. Through the first eight games, he had nearly hit his receptions and yardage total from a season ago with 67 catches and 725 yards. But just before halftime of their game against the Ravens, Allen made a diving catch for a touchdown. After all the cheers died down, it was apparent he had suffered an injury. It was later reported to be a lacerated kidney and just like that, the rest of his promising season was taken from him.
Tragedy struck once again to begin the 2016 season. In the first half of their season opener against the Chiefs, Allen had caught six passes for 63 yards. Just before the break, Allen went down with a non-contact injury later reported to be a torn ACL. His year was all of a sudden done before it really ever started.
Allen responded with the comeback season many had expected in 2016. He started 15 of 16 games played to catch a then-career high 102 passes for another career-high 1,393 yards.
Over the next four seasons, Allen became the picture of consistency in the NFL as he averaged 101.8 catches, 1,131.2 receiving yards, and 6.5 touchdowns from 2018-2021. He would earn Pro Bowl nods in each of those seasons, as well.
The 2022 season was expected to be more of the same for Allen until he went down with a hamstring injury in the team’s Week One matchup with the Raiders. After initially being deemed a minor tweak, Allen would go on to miss the next five games. He returned in week seven but quickly left the game in the first half after catching a pair of passes. Allen missed the next two games before officially returning to the field in a full capacity against the Chiefs in Week 10. He caught five passes for 94 yards in that narrow 30-27 loss.
By the end of the season, Allen would record 66 receptions for 752 yards and four touchdowns. His 75.2 yards per game were the third-highest in a season and the most since he averaged 87.1 in 2017.
Years with team: 10
“Keenan Allen signed a 4 year, $80,100,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $13,500,000 signing bonus, $43,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $20,025,000. In 2023, Allen will earn a base salary of $1,165,000 and a restructure bonus of $17,835,000, while carrying a cap hit of $12,782,500 and a dead cap value of $24,400,000.” - Spotrac.com
Allen has been a quarterback’s dream since joining the Chargers. He’s a menace on third downs with a master’s degree in route-running. He has been one of the best for so long that current fourth-year superstar Justin Jefferson noted Allen as one of the receivers he studied the most while growing up.
In terms of a competitor’s mindset, it doesn’t get much more infectious than Allen’s. He’s going to compete to the very end in everything he does, whether it’s on the field or the golf course. That mindset is a positive thing to be had in a locker room that’s seemingly getting younger and less experienced behind him. First-rounder Quentin Johnston said Allen and Williams were quick to reach out to him after he was drafted which also tells us he’s been a model leader and mentor for those the youngsters on the Chargers.
While Allen has been the picture of consistency when it comes to averaging 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards per season, he’s also been fairly consistent — in an underwhelming way — in the touchdown department. Only twice has Allen recorded more than six touchdowns in a season and from 2017 to 2021, he scored exactly six touchdowns in four of those five campaigns. Blame it on the offensive coordinators or whatever you like, the touchdown productions has been the biggest thing keeping Allen from ever gracing the pantheon of the NFL’s most-elite receivers.
The recent injury in 2022 could also be a cause for concern now that he’s on the wrong side of 30. History tells us he’s more than likely going to start closer to 17 games than 10, but you just never quite know how his body’s longevity is changing with age.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?
Allen is the Chargers’ top wideout, a role he’s claimed for the majority of his 10 seasons with the team. He’ll start alongside Mike Williams as the team’s other top wideout with both expected to move around the offensive formation at an increased rate under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. After missing seven games in 2022 due to a nagging hamstring injury, the expectation is for Allen to bounce back with a healthy season to once again lead the Chargers in receptions.