Keenan Allen’s draft stock was likely already about to take a little tumble. That happens when you’re a guy whose game is rooted in speed, and a lingering knee injury is robbing you of said speed.
Allen suffered a Grade two PCL strain during his final year at Cal, and although it was first thought to be a problem that would limit him for just a short period, he was still slowed in a private workout last week, posting 40-yard dash times of 4.71 and 4.75. That’s linebacker speed.
Now Allen has another problem to deal with: a possible failed drug test.
Allen has been red-flagged for a drug test at the Scouting Combine, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He was re-tested this month (the results are unknown at this point), and to the surprise of absolutely no one anywhere, his agent denies a test was failed, though the suspicion at the Combine is evidently tied to high levels of water found in his system. Let the peeing begin.
Here’s the deal with drug tests results in April for the upcoming draft class: right now, a lot of people will care, and so they should. Their caring will cause that whistling sound you’re beginning to hear, as Allen’s value will fall. Just like Tyrann Mathieu, Allen will be viewed as a first-round talent, but a second-round (or in Mathieu’s case, possibly far beyond that) person. That’ll be the case even though, as Schefter notes, Allen is currently sitting atop the wide receiver rankings on some team’s draft boards.
Then in September, something wondrous and magical will happen: no one will care or remember Allen’s failed test. If his talent shows up on the field and he’s also a reasonably decent human being, this will all dissipate into the wasteland that is the April draft abyss.
Hey, remember when Janoris Jenkins was a complete jerkface before the draft, and his leisure-time activities included smocking doobies, and fighting bros at bars? No really, do you? Because all I remember are his three interceptions returned for a touchdown, which tied a rookie record. Alongside Cortland Finnegan, he’s now one half of an imposing cornerback tandem, and he waited until the second day of the draft to hear his name called (seventh overall pick in the second round).
But Vontaze Burfict is an even better example of the red flag, and it’s everlasting false glow. Burfict was generally an awful person in college, and he often said horrible words to coaches and other people of authority. Combine that with his poor Combine performance (those 40-yard dash times are still crucial for linebackers, guys), and a prospect once viewed as a first-round pick wasn’t even drafted.
Burfict was then signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent, and all the middle linebacker did was record 127 tackles, good enough for 15th overall in the league. That’s pretty alright for a guy who was considered useless and toxic.
When our tape-watching fiend Alen Dumonjic broke down Allen’s game, the NFL comparison was lofty: Miles Austin. Even if he’s clean, those pretty red flags will still cause a fall.
In front offices where a wide receiver need is Sharpied on a whiteboard just below the day’s pizza order, there’s much hand and possibly rear slapping, because a first-round talent is now likely available at a second-round price.