NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State SS Marcus Allen

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#2 Marcus Allen/S/Penn State 6’2″ 202 Lbs

The Good

-Aggressive safety coming downhill against the run
-Big hitter as a box safety
-Works downhill well with discipline against runs between the tackles
-Matches up well against tight ends in the box; prefers press coverage against tight ends
-Fluid, versatile defender that is comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage

The Bad

-Lacks ball skills for the position
-Has tendency to slip off of tackles when looking for big blows
-Takes poor angles on outside runs when playing single high
-Doesn’t anticipate well in the passing game
-Very uncomfortable playing single-high safety; doesn’t run well sideline-to-sideline in pass coverage


-Four-year starter for Nittany Lions
-Became the sixth Nittany Lion to reach the 300-tackle mark in a career
-Finished his career ranked No. 5 on Penn State’s career tackles chart with 321 stops
-Owns nine career double-digit tackle games (two in 2014, two in 2015, three in 2016, two in 2017)
-Selected as Third Team All-American in 2017, and First Team All-Big Ten
-Godson of former NFL running back Curtis Martin
-Recorded just one interception in four years at Penn State

Tape Breakdown

If there’s one thing Penn State safety Marcus Allen did over the last four seasons at Penn State, it was defend the run with fervor, largely lining up in the box under the direction of defensive coordinator Brent Pry.

As a box safety, Allen was constantly around the football, coming downhill against the run with a reckless abandon. Despite being a safety, Allen was way more comfortable during his time at Penn State playing the run, rather than playing in coverage.

That’s not to say Allen can’t cover; he can, just not as a single-high safety playing the centerfielder role. He’s comfortable lining up over tight ends, or slot receivers, and he especially likes to get physical with tight ends. But when playing deep safety, he looks really uncomfortable playing centerfield, and really labors to change directions in coverage.

While not lined up as a single-high here, Allen is a deep safety in an obvious passing situation. Look at the way he labors dropping back into coverage, before then trying to close on the throw.

It’s not slow, per say, but it’s not explosive either. Once he closes in on the receiver, he has him lined up for a big hit along the sidelines, but at the point of impact, he fails to wrap up, allowing the Michigan State receiver to slip out of the hit, eventually scoring a touchdown.

Playing single-high here against Michigan in 2016, Allen reads run quickly and gets moving fairly quickly once he sees what’s happening. The issue arises with his angle to the ball carrier along the sideline. It’s very poor.

I’m not sure if he misjudged the running back’s speed, or the ground needed to cover to get to the play, but Allen winds up way off in his shot towards the back, forcing him to attempt an arm tackle up high.

It’s just very simple:  he’s much more comfortable and effective in the box.

Lined up off the ball here against the Pitt Panthers last season, Allen displays his click-and-close abilities near the line of scrimmage. Diagnosing the screen quickly, Allen fires up the field, slipping around a block to blow up the Pitt running back in the end zone for a safety.

I love the form on the tackle, driving his face right through the running back’s midsection, rocking him backwards for the safety.

Again, Allen clicks and closes with force coming downhill against the run.

While he does take a false step before exploding forward, Allen’s long strides allows him to chew up yardage coming downhill, closing in on the jet sweep quickly.

Once he’s in position, Allen looks to drop the hammer. He has a reputation as a physical safety, and he lived up to it throughout his four years at Penn State.

Allen seems to be a popular name among Steelers fans as a possible solution to the safety position, but he simply isn’t very reliable in coverage. If you want another box safety, dime linebacker-type, Allen is your guy. He’ll live around the line of scrimmage and reek havoc, but aside from that, he’s not your prototypical safety.

Projection:  Late Day 2

Games Watched:  at Michigan State (’15), at Michigan (’16), vs. Wisconsin (’16), vs. USC (’17), vs. Pittsburgh (’17), vs. Maryland (’17), vs. Indiana (’17), vs. Nebraska (’17), vs. Michigan (’17), at Michigan State (’17), at Northwestern (’17), vs. Washington (’17)


Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson Ogbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
Micah Kiser Will Hernandez Leighton Vander Esch Josh Allen   Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes  Tremaine Edmunds Kerryon Johnson Lorenzo Carter  Sony Michael
Kyzir White  Rashaan Evans  Tegray Scales  Isaac Yiadom  Jeff Holland
 Rashaad Penny John Kelly Bo Scarbrough  Roquan Smith  Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton  Josey Jewell  PJ Hall  Dorian O’Daniel  Josh Adams
 Leon Jacobs  Marcus Davenport  Jack Cichy  Royce Freeman  Nick DeLuca
 Vita Vea  Darrel Williams  Mason Rudolph  Shaun Dion Hamilton  MJ Stewart
 Derwin James  Kameron Kelly Justin Reid Sam Hubbard Da’Ron Payne
DaeSean Hamilton Nyheim Hines Arden Key Hercules Mata’afa Jason Cabinda
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