The Pittsburgh Steelers signed their first draft pick on Monday and it was former Utah cornerback Brian Allen, who was selected in the fifth-round. Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler recently talked about Allen during an interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com.
“Big,” said Butler when asked what he likes about Allen. “He’s got a lot of length. He’s 6-3, about 215, 220, somewhere around there. Runs sub 4.5, can do all that stuff. He’s still got a lot to learn He’s a big guy that’s not afraid to hit, not afraid to be physical.”
Allen, who started his college career at Utah as a wide receiver before moving over to the defensive side of the football in 2014, reminds Butler of another young member of the Steelers secondary.
“His junior year, he played some safety and he played corner also,” Butler said of Allen. “But his senior year he played just corner, so it’s a little bit like S.D. [Sean Davis] last year. S.D. was a safety and moved to corner and back and forth and stuff like that. That kind of helps a little bit.”
While it sounds like Allen will initially get every opportunity to play cornerback for the Steelers, it’s evident the team is well-aware of the limited playing time he received at safety while at Utah.
“I like Allen a lot,” an AFC scouting director said ahead of the draft, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a big, strong, fast kid. He needs to keep staying low and work on his tackling, but he’s got a natural backpedal. I want to see what he’s going to be like in a few years. I could see him playing safety if it doesn’t work out at corner. Right now, we’re evaluating him strictly at corner.”
During the summer of 2014, Allen reportedly initially worked with the safeties at Utah after making the switch from wide receiver, according to Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune. He then moved to cornerback for Utah after Reggie Porter went down with a season-ending injury.
The Steelers didn’t draft a safety this year and since the annual college selection event ended they apparently brought recently released safety Tre Boston in for a free agent visit.
While it’s a little strong right now to suggest that Allen might eventually be in line for a move from cornerback to safety at some point, I don’t think you can completely rule out the possibility of that happening just the same. Besides, the Steelers currently only have four safeties on their offseason roster with game experience at the position and they are Sean Davis, Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield.
Regardless of what position Allen ultimately winds up playing with the Steelers it will be interesting to watch him develop the remainder of the offseason.
“He has good skills with playing the football, is long at the line of scrimmage and plays press coverage in man,” Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said of Allen immediately after the team drafted him in the fifth-round. “He hasn’t played the position very long but he has shown a real knack for a position-converted receiver, who is, probably with another year under his belt, would be picked even higher than we acquired him in the draft. There are a lot of upsides with this player. We are excited to have him.”