With Georgia Tech’s pro day workout scheduled for today, running back Anthony Allen is eager to show prospective employers that he can play in a pro-style offense.
Allen must overcome perceptions that he’s more than just a product of the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option attack, which is in a different stratosphere from the type of offenses run by the NFL.
“They’ve got me down as just a guy that can run it between the tackles,” Allen told Cheesehead TV at the NFL Combine. “I want to show them that I can take it to the perimeter; I can take it the distance.”
One thing that isn’t debatable is Allen’s production in college, regardless of system. The Georgia Tech running back had 1,316 yards on 240 carries (5.48 average) and seven touchdowns in 2010.
That followed a season in which he had 618 yards and six touchdown on only 64 carries for an astounding 9.66 yard per carry average.
The difference between 2009 and 2010 is where Allen was utilized on the field. In ’09 during Georgia Tech’s Orange Bowl season, Allen lined up primarily on the wing getting carries on counter plays and receiving pitches on the option.
In 2010 he took over for Jonathan Dwyer, who currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the Yellow Jackets’ B-Back which lines up in three-point stance shortly behind the quarterback frequently executing dive plays up the middle.
Like Dwyer before him, Allen must now show he’s more than a one-trick pony.
“I talked with Jon a few times after he came through here, and the biggest thing he told me is that he’s got to work on pass protection,” said Allen. “That’s what everybody wants to see you do is pass protect because all we do is run the ball. So that’s something I’ve been working on.”
Taking it a step futher, Allen must also prove he’s able to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Because Georgia Tech rarely passed the ball, he received very few opportunities to showcase his receiving abilities. In 13 games, Allen only had three receptions in 2010, and that’s on top of only five the previous season.
“One of the things I need to work on is running my routes and pass protection,” said Allen. “I’ve been working on that up to this point, and I will keep on working on it up until training camp wherever I wind up at.”
One might think that by operating out of such a vastly different offense from those used in the NFL, there may not be much to gain from scouts watching Allen’s college film. But the Georgia Tech product looks at it in a different light.
He compares the transition he’ll make in the pros to those made by players such as high school quarterbacks being recruited to play safety in college, which happens all the time.
“They look at the little things,” explains Allen. “They’re looking at how my hips are; they’re watching me when I hit the perimeter; they’re watching me between the tackles. I think they’re going to find some things in my game that they can correlate to the pro offense.”
Allen took advantage of an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl to show scouts and coaches that he can translate his skills to the professional game.
He says he received positive feedback from the Buffalo Bills coaching staff about the switch to lining up seven yards behind center and understanding pass protections. He also thinks he changed people’s opinions about him down in Mobile, Ala.
A stellar performance at the Combine didn’t hurt where his 41.5-inch vertical jump was the best by a running back since at least 2006.
After today, Allen plays the waiting game until the NFL Draft in late April where he’s predicted to be anywhere from a second to a third day draft choice.
“People have been saying middle to late rounds, but that’s based upon this thing that I’m a downhill runner, not being able to catch the ball and not being able to run very fast,” said Allen. “Hopefully I’ll prove them wrong and move myself up.”
Having played two years in a pro-style offense at Louisville before transferring to Georgia Tech, Allen doesn’t think it will take long for him to make the transition.
Allen said he had an interview with the Packers while at the Combine in Indianapolis and was looking forward to it because his former teammate, safety Morgan Burnett, was drafted by the Packers last season.
Burnett is scheduled to attend today’s pro day at Georgia Tech in support of his teammates, and Allen said he’s looking forward to talking to him, though he’d be glad to end up anywhere in the NFL.
“I’ll be happy to play for anybody,” said Allen. “Just playing in the NFL has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.”