We're just three weeks away from the draft and I got a lot of these profiles to post. So let's get to it.
Today we focus on South Florida safety Nate Allen, my favorite of the "second-tier safeties." After Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, I think that Allen would fit best in Miami's defense as the free safety. But let's see what Ken from Voodoo Five thinks about his former standout safety. Below are some of Allen's measurable from the Combine (note that he didn't participate in much while nursing a quad injury) and Ken's thoughts on Nate.
Height: 6'0 1/2" / Weight: 207
40: N/A / Arm: 31" / Bench Reps: 16
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.