The 2011 Mackey Award winner has all the tools of a complete tight end and displays all the qualities to be a solid starter in the NFL on day one. Although only a junior, he was an important piece in Clemson’s offense as a consistent red-zone threat as well as a reliable blocker in the run game.
Allen fills all the size prerequisites that teams look for in an every down tight end. He has enough bulk to be serviceable in the running game and decent height to make catches over the middle of the field. Also, he has very good strength, as displayed by his 27 repetitions of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine.
While at Clemson, Allen was Tajh Boyd’s most dependable weapon in the passing game. Allen has great hands as a receiver and basically caught everything thrown his way at the collegiate level. In the red-zone, he was a real terror for opposing teams. He had eight touchdowns his junior year, which was good enough for 2nd in the nation, behind only Stanford’s Coby Fleener, for a tight end.
Allen also has a lot of experience as a route runner and is very adept in this department. He is also really good at creating separation against defenders by utilizing his underrated speed and quickness. When the ball is in the air, Allen shows great body control for a man his size.
Also, he does a nice job following the ball into his hands on a consistent basis. His leaping ability is another bonus that gives him leverage over coverage defenders, especially across the middle of the field.
What separates Allen from most of the other tight ends in this draft class is his ability to serve as an in-line blocker. First off, Allen is not a mauler in the blocking game by any means, but his willingness to block and his strength to do so is pretty rare in today’s game. He is also very strong at the point of attack and is pretty quick off the snap.
In the NFL, tight ends become household names by displaying remarkable athleticism and acrobatics in the passing game rather than by becoming reliable blockers in the running game. This is why a complete, three-down tight end such as Allen is quite rare in the NFL and is valued at a premium.
Although there is a lot to like with Allen, there are several knocks on him as well. As I mentioned before, he still needs a lot of work with his blocking technique in order to become a dominant blocker. At the college level, he was able to maneuver defenders by relying on his size. That won’t work in the NFL. Also, Allen sometimes gets lazy with his hand placement during games.
Another weakness in his game is his lack of vertical speed.
Allen ran a 4.89 forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is not very impressive for an early-round tight end. He won’t stretch defenses like a Coby Fleener type of player with his lack of deep speed, but he showed that he can still get adequate separation from defenders during games.