The position that seems the most stacked is wide receiver. That group is led by receiver Keenan Allen, who has been the team’s best receiver since his rookie year. Yet, the recognition is still not there outside of the Chargers world.
“I am about ready to close down social media all together,” said Allen on Monday after being asked by the media if he feels undervalued.
The NFL’s Top 100 was released a couple of weeks ago, and Allen came out as number 77 overall down 39 spots from 2018. Thirteen receivers were selected ahead of him. Not much changed from his game in a year. He had 1,196 yards along with six touchdowns in 2018 and a year later had 1,199 yards while adding six touchdowns.
“Probably because I don’t run a go route or catch a one-handed pass. I don’t know,” said Allen when asked why he doesn’t receive more love.
Allen has been a consistent part of the Bolts offense since returning from a lacerated kidney in 2015, then a torn ACL the following year. In the last three seasons, he has caught 303 passes, 3,788 yards, and 18 touchdowns. He has been at the top of the game. Even his former rival now teammate sees it.
“Oh yeah, definitely he is highly underrated,” said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “His route running is definitely at the top. It’s really about winning, man. Just getting over that hump and winning. When you win, you get more hype. You get more pub you get more respect. So, that’s what we got to do. I think that is probably hurting him. So, we gotta get over that hump and get more accolades.”
They had some battles when Harris was in Denver, but Harris is right. The team does need to win more. That is maybe why Allen went from 38th (the season when the Chargers were 12-4) down to 77 (a 5-11 season).
The team let quarterback Philip Rivers walk in February. Rivers had a great connection with Allen, but now Tyrod Taylor will start at the quarterback position, and they hope to have a fast-paced offense.
“Yeah, it is a little different,” said Allen. “I feel like we have been doing a good job, though. It’s only our third of practice so we haven’t hit all the plays and we haven’t scripted any plays, so I don’t get all the passes me and Phil (Rivers) would do during the games. Once we get to that point, I am sure our connection will be solid.”
Allen has been a workout warrior, especially during the offseason. He posts multiple videos of him lifting weights, working out, and running routes at a park against cornerbacks. Now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen was able to work out, even more, this offseason to get ready for a new season and new quarterback.
“I guess it was a little different,” explained Allen. “I was still able to work out. We had a gym we could go to with a private guy. I got a little stronger. I got a little bigger. This offseason, I was in the weight room a little bit more, so I feel like this is probably the best I have ever entered camp as far as shape-wise.”
Now the Cal product is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. When asked if he would like a new contract before the season starts, Allen didn’t give anything away.
“It would be nice, but I ain’t trippin,” said Allen with a straight face.
He then was asked if his agent and the Bolts brass had engaged in contract talks.
“I don’t know,” said Allen.
It will be interesting to see if general manager Tom Telesco gives Allen a contract extension before the season starts. If he does, he will have locked up defensive end Joey Bosa and Allen his two biggest free agents heading into 2021.