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Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Rams Depth Chart: Will TE Davis Allen Breakout in 2024?

By Vaseline May30,2024

One player on the Los Angeles Rams that many are excited about heading into 2024 is tight end Davis Allen. The Rams selected Allen in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft and will have a big opportunity this season with Tyler Higbee injured.

With the increased opportunities, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allen take a big step forward in year two and improve from both a technical and production standpoint. However, especially at the tight end position, it is still important to manage and temper expectations.

Heading into the season, Allen will most likely still be the second tight end on the depth chart. The Rams signed Colby Parkinson to a contract and he will be the option the offense relies on especially early in the season. Although Parkinson was brought in to be more of a blocking tight end, that doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t be a threat in the passing game.

The Seattle Seahawks are notorious for underutilizing their tight ends and Parkinson fell into the same boat. Noah Fant led Seahawk tight end with 414 receiving yards in 2023. Parkinson wasn’t far behind with 247 yards. The season before, Will Dissley led Seattle tight ends with 349 receiving yards. Once again, Parkinson was right behind at 322. Tight end simply hasn’t been a big part of the Seahawks passing game in recent years.

It’s also worth noting that Allen is only just in year two as a fifth-round pick at tight end. The transition from college to the NFL is especially tougher for players at the tight end position. The immediate impact of someone like Sam LaPorta doesn’t happen every year. Michael Mayer of the Las Vegas Raiders had just 304 yards receiving as a rookie and Luke Musgrave had 352. Brenton Strange was taken in the second round in 2023 by the Jacksonville Jaguars and had 52 receiving yards in his rookie season and Luke Schoonmaker was the Dallas Cowboys had also less than 100 meters reception with 65.

Ultimately, Allen had just 10 receptions for 95 yards last season. His 1.65 yards per route yardage ranked sixth among tight ends and he had an average target depth of just 7 feet. That was last among rookie tight ends with at least 10 targets more than 10 feet away. While he will certainly improve there, he probably won’t be the best option at tight end on offense either. As Jourdan Rodrigue said in an Instagram story answering fan questions:

β€œIt seems like a lot of people are sleeping on Colby Parkinson. A player that the technical staff is ‘extremely enthusiastic about’. I consider them a 1-2 until Tyler Higbee comes back.”

Allen showed a lot of promise last year of what he can be. Eight of his catches came in games without Tyler Higbee against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. The Clemson tight end showed the ability to have success down the seam and be a bit of a ‘seam buster’ on offense. The YAC ability he showed at Clemson was also on display. Of Allen’s 95 receiving yards, 74 came after the catch. His 7.4 yards after catch per reception was eighth among all tight ends with at least 10 targets. There were concerns about his blocking in the NFL and Allen had some positive moments there as well.

As a fourth-round pick, there was a lot of excitement surrounding Tyler Higbee’s arrival in the NFL. If he hadn’t had off-the-field issues, he might have gone in the second or third rounds. Like Allen, Higbee had 11 receptions for just 85 yards as a rookie while playing behind the more established Lance Kendricks. However, he didn’t really take off until his fourth year in the NFL.

It’s entirely possible that we see a similar development path for Allen as we did for Higbee. Higbee had 295 and 292 yards in tandem with Gerald Everett in years two and three, respectively. In fact, in 2018, he had fewer receiving yards than Everett, who was in his second season. Higbee finally broke out in year four with 734 yards.

While Allen will get more early opportunities this season, he will at some point fall back as the third tight end on the offense. Even if Higbee starts the year on the PUP list, he would only have to miss the first four games of the season before a five-week window opens to activate him. If Higbee returns, he would still be the Rams’ starting tight end.

Throughout Sean McVay’s tenure, the Rams haven’t been a 12-man team where they consistently had two tight ends on the field. That could certainly change as the offense adapts to the gap run scheme. Yet they are notorious for using their wide receivers as blockers instead of a secondary tight end. In the event the Rams make those types of schematic changes, Allen would see the field more until Higbee returns.

Once again, Allen showed enough in limited action to warrant the buzz he’s getting. However, the real increase won’t happen for another year or two as it continues to develop. Higbee is under contract through 2025, while Parkinson’s deal runs through 2026, with an “out” after 2025 as well. At that point, an Allen breakout is much more likely to occur.

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