At the University of South Carolina, the Gamecocks ran an interesting 4-2 defense with a third linebacker playing in a "spur" position. This third linebacker position was filled by Antonio Allen, a player that was too small to play full-time amongst the linebackers, but provided the team with a linebacker with coverage abilities.
Initially brought on to the Gamecocks with the intention to be a "Sam" linebacker, Allen is now looking to play in the NFL as a safety. During his time at the Senior Bowl he was, by most accounts, one of the top safeties in attendance and spoke to multiple teams including the Jaguars.
School: South Carolina
||Projected Round: 2nd-4th|
Pros: Has enough athleticism to be a strong starter in the NFL at safety. His back-pedal is strong, his speed is adequate for his size (high 4.4's-low 4.6's) and his change of direction is smooth. Very strong in run support. Flows towards the ball well. Showed decent, if not strong, coverage skills in one-on-one at the Senior Bowl. Played against SEC level of competition.
Cons: Lacks a 2nd gear to make up for a mistake if he's beat over the top. Lack of time playing as a traditional safety could cause for a tough transition mentally. Takes questionable angles in coverage at times.
Antonio Allen has been described as a player that plays like a linebacker, but has the body of a safety. The absolute best scenario would be if Allen could find a fit on a team in a Troy Polamalu-esque role, although Allen doesn't have the same kind of speed and athleticism as Polamalu.
A more realistic expectation was one given by Mihai Mitrache who compared Allen to Ravens S Bernard Pollard. While Pollard has certainly had his struggles in coverage, bouncing between three teams over the last four seasons, he is one of the best safeties in the league in run support.