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Prospect Profiles: S Nate Allen (USF)


Lance Zierlein

Scouts have confided in me that one of their favorite players on the South roster is USF safety Nate Allen. Allen has the size/speed NFL teams are looking for and he’s got some cover skills in man to man although that isn’t his forte. Allen is an aggressive tackler and he’s the type of hybrid safety that more and more teams are looking for these days. Allen is a high character kid and is very coachable according to scouts. If you are a Texans fan, this is a guy you should keep your eyes on although I’m not sure he makes it past the first 50 picks.


Career: 216 tackles, 2 FF, 10 INT.

2009: 80 tackles, 1 FF, 5 INT.

Big Games:

vs Wofford 10 tackles

@ Western Kentucky 7 tackles and an INT

@ Syracuse  8 tackles, 2 INT

vs Cinncinatti 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 Pass Defensed

@ Pittsburgh 12 tackles

vs Rutgers 7 tackles

vs Miami 8 tackles

Bowl Game: Northern Illinois 6 tackles.

You can’t fault Nate Allen for his poor schedule, but the teams that were pretty good this year Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cinncinnati, Miami, and Northern Illinois were some of his best games of the season.

So he improved as the competition rose. That’s a good sign.

Scouting Reports

CBS NFL Draft Scout

Read & React: Comes downhill to attack tight ends between the linebackers. Reacts quickly when a corner is in trouble and has the speed to catch free receivers from the opposite hash. A step slow to pick up misdirection and bootlegs but recovers nicely; still typically makes the play a few yards downfield.

Man Coverage: Good straight-line speed and fair change of direction abilities, but struggles to stay with receivers downfield when lining up in the slot, as you would expect from a safety. Slow, high, choppy backpedal. Should match up well against NFL tight ends in the flat.

Zone Coverage: Good range to get from the hash to the sideline on deep throws. Good height and vertical to win jump balls. Solid last line of defense, bringing his hips to stop receivers in their tracks. Will pound a receiver over the middle. Will take incorrect angles to the sideline at times, relying on his speed too often. Makes quarterbacks pay for underthrown balls, stepping in to make the interception more often than not.

Closing/Recovery: Will get to the ball when it’s in the air, knocking the receiver or the ball to the ground. Doesn’t always take correct angles when the play is in front of him, but has the speed to recover – preventing a big play from becoming huge.

Run Support: When allowed to attack the line, Allen is an explosive, reliable in-the-box tackler. Good last line of defense to prevent breakaway runs. Will add himself to the pile and push back the runner to prevent the extra yard. Not physical enough to get off tight end blocks on the edge. Gets sucked in too far on runs, failing to keep the runner from getting the sideline.

Tackling: Generally a secure tackler in the secondary. Gives good effort, and many times is the second man in on a tackle. Gets frozen and loses battles against elusive running backs in the open field. Played a lot of deep Cover-2, and played behind an active front seven – leading to fewer opportunities for tackles in 2008. Aggressiveness and secure tackling; will be a solid special teams player at the next level.

Intangibles: Very good student. Sets the defense on the field. Loves the game; works hard on and off the field to improve.

NFL Comparison: Brodney Pool, Browns

SportingNews’ Russ Lande

Coverage Skills: Can cover tight ends and running backs-struggles against Wide Receivers, more from a technique standpoint than athletically. College scheme had him in coverage often. Can get in the hip pocket of tight ends and mirror their movements all over the field. Is a smart player in zone coverage. Will take poor angles sometimes to the ball. Is a bit stiff and can be shaken by sharp cuts.

Run/Pass Recognition

Is above average in this area. Gets a good jump on the ball because of outstanding work in the film room. Makes all the calls and adjustments in the secondary rarely takes a false step.

Closing Speed: Plays faster than timed speed. On tape,  hardly looks as if he’s running hard, but makes up a lot of ground quickly and is always around the ball. Only gets beat deep if he takes wrong angle when trying to jump a route.

Ball Skills: Always around the ball and has a lot of production to show for hustle. Shows soft hands and tracks the ball well in the air. Shows good concentartion and will go for the interception instead of the pass breakup if in position.

Run Support: Plays bigger than listed size and is a force in the running game. Goes for the knockout blow at times and misses some tackles by not using good technique. When he does connect shows the natrual hip roll to drop ball carriers on the spot.

Bottom line: Allen is a physical playmaker who always hustles. He is tough and can line up and play like a linebacker over the tight end. Allen is a leader and plays the game with respect and intelligence. He could go late in the 1st round and should last no longer than middle Round 2.

Allen has been an excellent safety for the Bulls. He has a good combination of size and athleticism. He isn’t a consistent physical open field tackler and needs to finish better at the next level. Allen has good balance, foot agility and quickness for his size. He shows good range in pursuit but needs to be more consistent taking angles to the ball. Allen understands leverage and is rarely out of position when defending both the run and the pass. He can re-route receivers with his long arms and is technique sound in combination man and zone coverages. Allen is a good football player that has the mental toughness, size and athleticism to work into a starting position in his rookie season.

Allen has a really nice blend of size and athleticism for a safety. Possesses the toughness and willingness necessary to help out in run support. Has been a very productive player at the college level. Displays really impressive instincts when playing in man or zone coverage. Despite reactions and instincts, must take better pursuit angles. Allen is capable in coverage but could afford to improve his overall ball skills to make more game-changing plays. Will need to become a more physical and reliable tackler in the open field.


  • Solid height with great bulk
  • Three-year starter
  • Playmaker and highly productive
  • Takes good angles in run support
  • Fluid hips
  • Ballhawk who can change a game
  • Centerfielder range
  • Highly instinctive
  • Physical tackler
  • Underrated athlete
  • Eliminates space quickly
  • Low in backpedal; nice technician
  • Uses hands well to shed blocks in run support
  • Good route recognition
  • Vocal leader on defense; team captain
  • Great all-around skill set for a free safety  Weaknesses:
  • Lacks great straight-line speed
  • Tends to struggle in man coverage where he has to turn and run
  • Not a violent threat in deep half/over middle
  • Doesn’t have superstar potential
  • Summary: Nate Allen has been a favorite of mine all year. Some guys just find ways to make plays despite average measureables. I expect Allen to win a starting job quickly in his career. He’s a prototypical free safety who is clean off the field and has a reportedly great work ethic. I expect Allen to come off the board between picks 35 and 70.
  • Player Comparison: Tanard Jackson. Jackson didn’t have great measurables coming out of Syracuse, but he’s a very good technician and a great playmaker for Tampa Bay.
  • Where the Mocks Have him Falling 1st round pick 31 the Colts pick #43, 2nd round Miami Dolphins pick #49 2nd round San Fran 49ers pick #43 2nd round Miami Dolphins

    Todd McShay pick #27 1st round Dallas Cowboys

    Big Board Rankings

    ESPN Scouts Inc. 37th

    Draft Board Insider 93rd 53rd

    CBS NFL Draft Scout 57th

    Bartolis Summary and Final Verdict

    Before the Giants signed Antrel Rolle people were begging for the Giants to take a Safety in the first two rounds of the draft…is that still the case?

    Well who knows, but Nate Allen is a good FOOTBALL Player who does not have elite numbers. If Nate Allen’s football ability was put into Taylor Mays body you could have the greatest safety of all time. A guy who understands football, can go get the ball, but a guy who can also outrun all the Wide Receivers.

    But Nate Allen doesn’t measure great. He’s 6’0” 207 pounds, 31 inch arms, 9 3/8 inch hands. He put up 16 bench press reps at 225 (Reshad Jones and Taylor Mays put up 24 each), but the guy can flat out play.

    Bartolis Final Verdict:

    I think before the Antre Rolle signing Nate Allen would have been a specific target of the New York Giants at some point in the second round, but I don’t think that is any longer the case. This safety class is pretty deep. Eric Berry is great, I love Earl Thomas, Taylor Mays has very high upside. Chad Jones, ReShad Jones, Morgan Burnett, , Nate Allen, Darrel Stuckey are all in the same class to some people.

    Their values have a WIDE range. I’ve seen each of the above players (after Taylor Mays) rated as the 4th best safety in a number of spots. As you see from this sampling most people think he is a mid 2nd round targer or higher, Draftboard insider. think he’s a third round target.

    I think where the Giants pick in the second round Nate Allen would have provided good value, now I think he’ll still be pretty good value, but I don’t think he’ll be Best Player Available…and if the Giants go OL in the first round (like I hope) there might be a DT here (Arthur Jones, Lamarr Houston, or Jared Odrick…if Jerry Reese has a pact with Satan) that would provide better value and help the Giants more.

    I like Nate Allen, but with Phillips and Rolle I don’t think the Giants will be selecting a Safety in round two.

    Previous Profiles

    Jason Pierre Paul

    DT Geno Atkins

    DT Lamarr Houston

    RB Jahvid Best

    OT Trent Williams

    Derrick Morgan

    OL Mike Iupati

    S Chad Jones

    OLB/DE Sergio Kindle

    Sean Weatherspoon

    ILB Sean Lee

    S Eric Berry

    OT Bruce Campbell

    ILB Daryl Washington

    DT/NT Dan Williams (Updated with K.C. Joyner’s Draft Lab 2/7)

    CB Kyle Wilson

    DT Jared Odrick

    DE Carlos Dunlap

    ILB Micah Johnson

    DT Arthur Jones

    OT Bryan Baluga

    OT Anthony Davis (UPDATED 2/5/10)

    DT Brian Price

    ILB Brandon Spikes

    S Earl Thomas

    ILB Rolando McClain

    RB C.J. Spiller

    S Taylor Mays

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    4 Responses to “Prospect Profiles: S Nate Allen (USF)”

    1. CMH says:

      Why are you so sure that we can count on Phillips to be the same player next year?

      That’s a major major injury that takes lots of time to come back from.

      Ever see an NBA player come back the next season from Micro Fracture?

    2. I’m not positive of anything.

      just a hunch I guess.

      Anyone I Profile I’m profiling because A) I think the Giants Should consider drafting.

      B) I think the Giants Are considering drafting.

      I’m not against taking Nate Allen(I’m almost purely a Best Player Available person…and he very well might be when the Giants pick in the 2nd round). I’m just saying I think there is going to be one suprise player slipping down that far and now the Giants might not need Allen so if he’s not at the top of their board I think they will pass on him…whereas before I think the value and the need would have matched up and the Giants would not have passed on a safety in round two they might now.

      • andrew i says:

        best player available is a good way to think about it, and the strategy jerry has said they operate with. maybe thats why our draft classes kick so much butt every year.

        my thing is safetys dont usually go early, and the Giants seem to be able to consistently find diamonds in the rough in later rounds of the draft…. i think its reasonable to conclude that picking “safety first” is not the way to go here and the Giants should see if they can steal a sleeper later on

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