Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 33rd best player in safety Ricardo Allen.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 42.5/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 2 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 20 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +3
Allen is potentially poised for a big year in Atlanta in 2015. He’ll be tasked with being the team’s starting free safety, which is a position that he’s completely unproven at, which is why he isn’t ranked very highly.
While there is no denying that Allen has the skills to be a competent-to-good NFL safety, all that remains to be seen is if he’s ready now that the opportunity has been thrust upon him.
Allen showed good instincts and awareness when playing zone coverage during his days at Purdue and did his best work when he could sit back and keep things in front of him. That of course should translate well to play safety. Despite his smaller stature, Allen never shied away from his duties in run support at cornerback. But his size does still limit him against the run, as while he is capable of being competent there, he probably won’t be good.
But with strong safety William Moore stepping up his run-support duties, it’s not necessary that Allen be an “A-plus” run defender in Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme. Much of Allen’s duties will revolve around his ability to perform as a center fielder. Allen will be tasked with patrolling the deep middle of the defense and helping the corners prevent the big plays that can cripple a defense.
Allen is capable of doing that, but now has to prove it on the field. It could boil down not only to whether he has the ability to prevent the big play, but whether he has the skills to create them on his own.
It will be a big year for Allen, as the new coaching staff has little reason to be invested in him long-term. At this point, he might be considered little more than a stopgap, the best of what little options the Falcons have at the position.
However if Allen shows promise in 2015, then it’s likely that finding that next great center fielder at free safety could be put on the back burner to allow the Falcons to address other positional needs next offseason. But if Allen doesn’t play with the level of consistency the team wants, then it’s likely that finding a stud free safety will be among the team’s highest priorities in 2016.
Even in the event that Allen washes out as a starter, the experience he gains this year should make him into a capable reserve at the very least. Should Allen prove to be a viable long-term option, then he could become an important component for many years to come as Quinn tries to build one of the league’s better secondaries in Atlanta much like he had in Seattle.