If the New York Giants opt to select a tight end in the 2012 draft, then Clemson's Dwayne Allen is the better choice over Stanford star Coby Fleener. Many mocks still have Big Blue choosing a tight end and with Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum facing lengthy spells on the sidelines, it is a smart pick.
Yet Fleener would be the wrong option for the G-Men. The Giants may be tempted by his downfield playmaking potential, as a way of compensating for the loss of Mario Manningham. However, Allen has the superior all-round skill set to the suit the requirements of Big Blue's offense.
The Giants offense has been based around not only Kevin Gilbride's run-and-shoot background, but also the Perkins/Erhardt philosophy Tom Coughlin learned as a Big Blue assistant in 1990. That system requires a traditional, multi-use tight end who is comfortable as a blocker and short-range pass catcher.
At 6'4" and 255 pounds, Allen has classic tight end size. He is a technically superior blocker to Fleener, and would help improve upon a 32nd-ranked rush attack in 2011. The Giants still run a power-based ground game and need a tight end able to seal the corner and drive defenders off the ball on sweep plays.
As a receiver, Allen is blessed with excellent, reliable hands and is very effective in underneath areas, thanks to intelligent route running. He is particularly adept at releasing late off and through the line of scrimmage on screen plays.
The Giants pass offense contains principles of the run-and-shoot schemes Kevin Gilbride ran in his early years as a coach. One of the key plays brought over by Gilbride is the middle screen.
Allen can be a dangerous weapon on this kind of screen design. His knack for throwing a block and then deftly drifting into space can also be an asset in the play-action game.
While he lacks true vertical speed, Allen is a natural outlet underneath that Eli Manning would certainly be grateful to have over the course of the season. With Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz running vertical routes, Allen will be free to work the shallow, intermediate zones.
The Star-Ledger recently reported that Allen visited with the Giants and suggests that he could be available to the defending Super Bowl Champions in the second-round. That would leave the G-Men free to use their first rounder to pick a linebacker, third wide receiver or an offensive lineman.
By waiting for Allen, the Giants would also get a more scheme-suitable and every-down tight end, who could be useful in multiple ways.