2013 NFL rookie of the year race, Week 12: Keenan Allen continues to shine

Peter Aiken

Both rookie of the year races could come down to the wire.

It's still tough to say why San Diego Chargers rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen slipped to the third round in the 2013 NFL Draft.

His lack of production as a California Golden Bear probably had something to do with it. The failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine didn't help. Whatever it was, the teams that passed on Allen might be starting to regret it.

Week 12 was another prime example of Allen's ability to be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. In fact, it may have been the best example of that thus far.

Allen didn't just produce, he dominated against one of the best defenses in football. He was, at times, impossible to cover. Philip Rivers trusts him more and more with every throw, and Allen is starting to make a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Three up

Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers: Allen may have had his best game as a pro on Sunday. He set a career-high in catches and had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season. He's been a bit up and down as a rookie, but he's piled up 737 yards on 50 catches and three touchdowns this season. He's starting to look like the presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Justin Pugh, Offensive Lineman, New York Giants: If Allen was the under-drafted player of 2013, many pointed to Justin Pugh as one of the over-drafted prospects back in April. That seems foolish given the progress Pugh has made on an otherwise disappointing season for the Giants. Pugh has become a rock solid right tackle and seems to be improving week-to-week. In last week's loss to the Cowboys, he was as solid against the run as he was in pass protection.

Logan Ryan, Cornerback, New England Patriots: The Patriots managed to frustrate Peyton Manning for much of their win over the Broncos on Sunday Night Football in Week 12. With Aqib Talib sidelined at times, rookie cornerback Logan Ryan was asked to step up. He did that and more, looking poised in the biggest challenge of his young career. Nobody ever questioned Ryan's size and speed, but he looked more refined in his ability to mirror and close on the ball in Week 12. The Patriots have to be encouraged by how well Ryan played.

Three down

DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans: After a hot start to the season, Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins hasn't looked good. It might be the flux at the quarterback position in Houston, but Hopkins has struggled too. In a loss to the Jaguars he caught only one of four targets and dropped a pass. The Texans better hope it's just a mid-season learning curve for Hopkins rather than teams figuring him out.

Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders: Tyler Wilson hasn't been mentioned much in this space this season, if at all. He's been buried on the Raiders' depth chart and on Wednesday he was released for the second time this season. He may clear waivers and end up on Oakland's practice squad, but that won't change the fact that he was passed by on the depth chart by Terrelle Pryor and undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. For a prospect who once had the look of a first-rounder, Wilson has fallen off quite a bit.

Jon Bostic, Linebacker, Chicago Bears: Former Florida linebacker Jon Bostic always stood out as a physical player in college, but limitations caused him to fall on draft day. Some of those limitations were on display in Week 12, when Bostic was targeted three times in coverage, gave up catches on all three targets and allowed a touchdown. The Bears have given him a fair amount of responsibility as a rookie. He just needs to learn how to handle it consistently.

Rookie of the Year picks

Offense: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers: This is a tough pick to make, but for the first time in weeks, the offensive rookie of the year pick has changed. Giovani Bernard has been rock solid all season, but at the rate Keenan Allen is producing in San Diego, he could run away with the honor. Still, Bernard's versatility and ability to find the end zone could make this a close race. We'll see how both finish the season.

Defense: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive lineman, New York Jets: Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson have been 1 and 1A for our defensive rookie of the year for most of the season. Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso has made a case at times, but the honor isn't just about stats. At least not here. Richardson and Lotulelei have both had huge impacts on their respective teams. What gives Richardson the slight edge is simply that he's playing more snaps.

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