While a 34-17 defeat in the preseason doesn’t necessarily point to panic or disappointment on the Los Angeles Rams‘ side, there was one sign that pointed to a surprise on the evening against the Las Vegas Raiders.
It was late draft find Davis Allen — once described pre-draft as a “human vacuum” who broke out for a stunning eight catches in the loss on Saturday, August 19 at SoFi Stadium.
But was getting the fifth rounder out of Clemson involved early and often drawn up by design on head coach Sean McVay’s end? And what was his take on Allen’s impressive night?
‘Human Vacuum’ Revealed to be Part of Offensive Plan vs. Raiders
Before his eight-catch, 53-yard night, nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein once wrote this description of the towering 6-foot-6, 245-pounder out of Clemson, including the “vacuum” description:
“There is nothing particularly exciting about watching Allen get into and through his routes, but the magic happens once the ball goes up. Allen is a human vacuum, using instinctive body positioning, mid-air adjustments and exceptional catch focus for consistent 50/50 wins,” he wrote.
Zierlein added: “He isn’t much of a route separator, but he secures a high number of contested throws.”
One of those catches was on display here:
But again, was it drawn up by McVay, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and passing game coordinator Zac Robinson to get Allen more involved?
“I think sometimes it just naturally occurred that way, but there was a conscientious effort on Zac’s part to get him going,” McVay shared with reporters. “He was somebody that… I know he’s been chomping at the bit to be able to get out there and to be able to see him get an opportunity to compete tonight [And] he had a good look in his eye before the game.”
It parlayed into the first breakthrough NFL night for the rookie out of Clemson.
How Pleased Was McVay?
Rare that any Rams game, including preseason, witnesses heavy TE involving on the passing end. But Allen was targeted eight times by Stetson Bennett and caught all eight of his opportunities.
“It’s been good just to be able to get him out here and start to compete, getting comfortable coming out of his stance, hearing the play calls, breaking the huddle. I was happy for him to do as well as he did tonight,” McVay said.
Overall, count McVay as someone impressed with how Allen answered to his desire of wanting to be more involved with the Rams offense.
“I was really pleased with him. I thought he did a nice job,” McVay said. “Everybody’s going to see that he was targeted eight times, makes eight catches. I thought he did a nice job being able to run some tough, hard-earned yards, especially when he’s catching some underneath throws and being able to fall forward, but I thought he competed well without the ball also. You can see he’s got a big catch radius, good soft hands, so I was really pleased with him and (Tight Ends Coach) Nick Caley does a really good job with that group, but it was an awesome debut for him.”
Bennett was another who came away impressed with his fellow 2023 draft member.
“I thought he played, outstanding, physical, tough. He made some good catches on some tough balls to catch. He’s a big body. He’s friendly. I thought it was cool,” Bennett said.