With the release of Melvin Bullitt last week, the search to find Antoine Bethea's running mate on the back end of the secondary will be in full force. One potential candidate that'll be available through the draft is the physical, big hitting South Carolina SS Antonio Allen.
Allen played what the Gamecocks dubbed the "spur" position, which was a hybrid SS/LB position, one that I'm guessing Bob Sanders would have excelled in. It meant he played a majority of the time in the box, and was very good against the run. The flip side of that, however, was that he didn't get nearly the amount of work in pass coverage that he'll need in the NFL, especially when matched up against Tight Ends in the NFL, who keep getting better and better.
Allen played in 38 games in his four years in Columbia, starting each of his final three seasons. He had 198 total tackles in his career, including 24 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, which coincides quite well with a guy who plays down in the box and makes plays in the run game. He did have four interceptions in his career, and ran two of them back for touchdowns, including one this year against Georgia. He had a career high 16 tackles in the season opener this season against East Carolina. For a defense with so many really good players, getting that many tackles is quite the accomplishment.
He was also a major contributor on special teams for South Carolina each of his four seasons, and was asked about it at the Combine, and he said he played on every special team except the Field Goal unit, which obviously makes sense. I'm guessing returners don't want to see Allen running at them at full speed on kick or punt returns.
After the jump we have what some draft sites have to say about Allen, as well as all his measurements from the Combine and my thoughts on him.
A tall, top heavy safety prospect who plays the hybrid SS/LB "spur" position on the South Carolina defense. Plays a lot inside the box and when he sees the football showcases an average initial burst, drops his pad level, wraps and creates an explosive pop into contact...A physical in the box type player who doesn't key overly well. Isn't an NFL caliber pass defender either and looks more like a very average old school type strong safety.
A lean, athletically built college "spur," Allen was active and productive as a senior. Does not possess starter-caliber smarts and instincts, but comes from a program with a recent history of producing NFL DBs. Athleticism is an asset as a backup/special-teamer.
He is very active and plays the run extremely well. Some will question his value as a safety because he didn't play the true safety position in college, but his athletic ability and tendency to be actively involved in every play in the box gives him value to teams looking to add run support. He is somewhat limited in pass defense due to playing so close in the box.
Allen looks like a guy that might have fit in to the previous defensive scheme the Colts had more so than he will under the new coaching staff. His versatility to play multiple positions would be nice to have, and seeing that he's a middle to late round guy, it would make taking a flyer on him more understandable. I don't like that he's not that great in pass coverage though, as that is essential to play in an NFL secondary.
For a complete list of prospects and profiles, check out our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.