Not every deserving prospect hears his name called on draft day. Just ask Rod Smith, C.J. Anderson, Chris Harris, Jr., Shaquil Barrett, and Phillip Lindsay — none of whom were drafted and all of whom have earned Pro Bowl accolades at the next level.
The Denver Broncos have a rich tradition of finding, not just impact players in the undrafted ranks, but veritable stars. That being said, just because he garnered reportedly $180,000 in guarantees from the Broncos, former Alabama edge rusher Christopher Allen has no promise of becoming the next success story.
Allen isn’t even a lock to make the Broncos’ 53-man roster but that contract Denver handed out makes the practice squad a near certainty at worst. But he has to get out there and perform.
Allen’s got to get healthy first but head coach Nathaniel Hackett sounds bullish on the rookie’s upside.
“We’re going to play that by ear,” Hackett said on Friday. “We’re going to see how he comes along. He’s a very talented athlete, a really good person. For us, it’s about getting him healthy and getting him right first, then as we move forward we’ll be able to see where he fits. He has a lot of stuff that he has to offer this team, and we just have to get him out there so we can evaluate it.”
That’s the rub. Allen has a concerning injury history, which is why he went from being a fourth-round-caliber prospect to the bottom of the undrafted pile.
A gifted but still raw athlete, Allen was cruising for NFL draft love before he broke his foot whilst sacking Miami quarterback D’Eriq King in the Crimson Tide’s season-opener. Allen is 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds of twitched-up potential.
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He played in 19 collegiate games and totaled 6.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. Not exactly the type of production to make one do a double-take — at first glance.
But the Broncos delved far deeper than that, determining that while Allen’s health status eliminated him from draft-pick consideration, there was some ‘there’ there if the team could recruit him as a college free agent.
The Broncos have two solid veterans atop the edge rusher depth chart in Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. Behind them are second-round pick Nik Bonitto, Malik Reed, and Jonathon Cooper. Allen will have to get in where he fits in.
But you know the ol’ NFL adage: ‘you can’t make the club from the tub.’
If, indeed, availability is the best ability, Allen will have to add a new talent to his skill-set. But if the character is there, as Coach Hackett alludes with his “good person” comment, there’s reason to believe the Broncos can nurse this kid back to full health.
Cliches aside, even though Allen isn’t 100%, listening to Hackett and interpreting what his $180K in guarantees, it sounds like the Broncos plan to be patient and play the long game with Allen and bank on his long-term upside.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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