Scouting Report: Three Golden Bears

The Chargers spent two of their six draft picks on Cal players: WR Keenan Allen and CB Steve Williams. To learn more about what we can expect from this pair, we chat with publisher Ryan Gorcey. He serves up detailed scouting reports and even dishes on safety Sean Cattouse.

Michael Lombardo: Let's start with Keenan Allen. What's the deal with his health? What are the odds he is 100 percent healthy for the start of the 2013 season, and what are the chances his knees allow him to reach his full potential moving forward? Also, can you identify the one or two strongest parts of his game?

Ryan Gorcey: Allen has had two health issues in the past year. The first occurred when he was still in the game with 1:18 left in an eventual 48-27 loss to Utah, landing awkwardly on the sideline while trying to recover an onside kick. The strained PCL knocked him out for the rest of the year, although the fact his brother Zach Maynard also went down shortly thereafter likely prompted him to not exactly try his hardest to come back for the final game of the season.

Allen said he was about 85 percent during his personal pro day back in Greensboro, NC, before the NFL Draft, and part of that was due to an ankle tweak he suffered during training. Neither injury is significant given the time to heal, and since he's already participated in the Chargers' OTAs, I'd be surprised if he's anything less than 100 percent by the time the season rolls around.

As for the strongest parts of his game, Allen is a superb athlete, plain and simple. He won't win any 40-yard dashes any time soon, but he's a long-strider who has a different gear in games than he does in practice. Allen is a perfectionist when it comes to his craft. He personally tutored two of Cal's young receivers during fall camp last season, drilling footwork and off-the-line moves with Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper in their dorm room. He's also been coached by Chargers legend Wes Chandler.

Allen came out of high school as a five-star safety, having also played receiver, quarterback and running back. His experience on both sides of the ball makes him a very effective weapon in a variety of sets, and he's regularly taken end-arounds and reverses to the house. Allen rushed 33 times in three years at Cal, gaining 230 net yards with two touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He's also completed all three passes he's attempted in college for 52 yards, including one touchdown.

His biggest asset is his vision. He excels at getting yards after the catch mainly because of the instincts he developed as a tailback, which was evident when he took what was a 21-yard, over-the-middle dart and turned it into a 90-yard touchdown against Washington in 2011. He has shown remarkable ability to turn short screens into big gains, as well, because of his ability to make defenders miss and because of his physicality.

A big receiver at 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, Allen had to contend with errant passes from Maynard for the past two years, and more often than not, came down with balls that very few other receivers could catch. He turned his brother -- a marginal Div. I QB, at best -- into a near-3,000-yard passer nearly single-handedly.

Because Cal has had some pretty studly punt returners in years past (namely, one DeSean Jackson), that part of his game has been a bit overlooked. Again, while Allen's speed isn't nearly comparable to Jackson's, it's his vision and his patience that make him more than viable as an NFL returner. He was used sparingly in his first two seasons in that regard, only returning a total of six punts for 40 yards, but as a junior, he took back 15 punts for an average of 14.1 yards and one touchdown as the Bears' primary return man. He hasn't returned kickoffs since his freshman season, but that year, he took back 18 balls for 406 yards, including a 61-yard return.

CB Steve Williams
ML: Let's move on to San Diego's other draft pick from Cal, Steve Williams. How much experience does he having covering the slot (which is where he projects in the NFL)? Do you see him being able to consistently match up with NFL receivers? And what experience/ability does he have as a return man?

RG: I was always disappointed that Williams wasn't used more in the return game, given his speed. He went head-to-head more than once with Jahvid Best in 40-yard dash races and pushed the former first-rounder every time when they were both at Cal. Put him back to return punts, and I think you could see some fireworks, but he'll have to work on the finer points of the return game (positioning, judgment, vision, etc.).

As for covering the slot, he was Cal's No. 1 corner for his last two seasons, so he didn't have much experience covering slot guys, but his speed and coverage instincts should serve him well if that's where the Chargers decide to put him.

The one time he did cover the slot consistently was back in 2011 at Colorado, where after Paul Richardson caught eight passes for 274 yards over the first three quarters (and the first play of the fourth), Williams was assigned to cover the speedy slot man and effectively shut him down, limiting him to three catches and 10 yards.

ML: Finally, while I have you, can you give me a scouting report on Sean Cattouse, who actually joined the Chargers last season but is now fighting for meaningful snaps for the first time?

RG: I always liked Sean and was a bit surprised he didn't get more run last season with San Diego. Cattouse's biggest drawback is that he wasn't very disciplined when it came to zone-read or pistol-type offenses, as he was gashed badly against UCLA in 2011 as the primary spy on Kevin Prince. That night at the Rose Bowl, Cattouse was burned several times by a not-very-good Bruins squad, as Prince ran 19 times for 183 yards. Against NFL-style offenses, and even the occasional spread, though, he was fairly stout. He racked up a 13-tackle game against Andrew Luck and Stanford, and a seven-tackle game at Washington in 2011, and an eight-tackle game against Arizona State and a 15-tackle game against the Cardinal in 2010.

Which Cal rookie are you most excited about? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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