We’ve noticed many of the college SBN blogs helping out their sister NFL blogs by putting together draft profiles of their former players who could potentially be taken in the first two rounds. So we’re following suit. The Bulls have three such players; today we’re profiling Nate Allen.
Measurables: 6'0", 207 lbs.
40 Time: Unsure. Allen reportedly pulled a quad muscle earlier in the combine and won't run on Tuesday, his scheduled workout day. If that changes and he does run the 40, I'll update the profile with his time.
College Stats: Finished with 144 solo tackles (five for loss) and 80 assists. Intercepted nine passes, broke up 12 more, recovered four fumbles and a blocked field goal, and scored three touchdowns.
Quick Bio: Nate Allen followed in the footsteps of Anthony Henry* and J.R. Reed, becoming a very productive free safety at USF. After playing sparingly in 2006, Allen burst onto the scene in 2007 and started every game his last three seasons, 39 games in all. Playing alongside Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams in 2007, both of whom were drafted by the NFL, Allen showed a nose for the ball with 76 tackles, four INTs, and three fumble recoveries. He also played on special teams and got USF's ROFLcopter victory over Louisville started by returning a fumble on the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Allen's numbers slipped in 2008 as the defense struggled in general, but rebounded last year. Allen was defensive captain in 2009 and had 85 tackles, and four interceptions. He was the Big East defensive player of the week after a two-INT game against Syracuse, and was named second-team All-Big East after the season.
Pros: Does a lot of things well. Like Carlton Mitchell, his combination of speed and athleticism will have him in demand. Can hang in both man and zone coverage, so you don't have to hide him in passing situations. Smart, instinctive player who knows where to be on the field. Has made several clutch plays, including the single biggest play of USF's 2008 season - an interception and runback against Kansas in the last 40 seconds that put the Bulls in position to kick the winning field goal on the final play. Stayed healthy throughout his college career.
Cons: It's actually kind of hard to come up with one. Allen is extremely steady and while he doesn't have a truly game-breaking skill, he doesn't have a fatal flaw either. He could get a little bit better in coverage, but he's hardly a liability. If he had an elite skill (like Eric Berry's highlight-reel hitting, or the superior range of Morgan Burnett), there's no question he would be a first-round pick.
NFL Comparison: I'm going to break right through the aversion to comparing players of different races and say Allen reminds me of Eric Weddle. Weddle doesn't blow many guys up, but he covers well, plays good run defense, and gets ballcarriers on the ground. He's fast enough to do what he needs to do, and he uses his smarts to get in position and make plays.
Projection: Nate Allen is the least risky of the Bulls' three potential high draft picks. He might even be a little underrated at this point. Whoever takes Allen, likely in the early to mid-second round, is going to get a solid NFL player who they won't have to worry much about. Put him on a team that doesn't hang its secondary out to dry and he'll be even better.
* - That's not a mistake. Henry didn't switch to CB until his senior year at USF, even though he's played his entire NFL career there.