Dakota Allen 6’ 2” 235 lbs ILB Texas Tech #40
Allen is a player with an excellent skill set for the position but he also has a troubled past. As a freshman he led his team with 87 tackles and 6 TFL. He also had 2 INTs. Then the trouble began. He was dismissed from his team after he (and two other teammates) robbed a home while the owners were away on vacation. When the police questioned him about it he came clean right away and took his punishment. He was required to do a number of court ordered activities as well as pay restitution to the injured parties. He played JUCO ball during his sophomore season while he took care of certain activities to regain his spot on Texas Tech.
What he did showed poor judgement and a lack of leadership (he was the 3rd person in this heist) as the others convinced him to come along. He never got anything from the theft as the other players sold the goods and then told on him. He took his blame and tried to make amends to the wronged parties and his school. He could have signed with another school and not faced the shame at Texas Tech, but he wanted to prove that he realized what he did was wrong and he knew it. Owning up to a terrible act is not easy and regaining the respect of your peers is difficult. With such a large squad there will be some players who will feel he was selfish and will never truly forgive him. He knew this, but he still returned to Texas Tech, the place that gave his his first opportunity, to try and make some right out of an awful wrong.
He came back last year to again lead his team with 102 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks and 2 INTs. He could have bolted to the NFL but wanted to come back to the team that game him 2 chances to prove their faith in him was well placed. He was on the Bednarik watch list in 2017 and again in 2018.
He might not be as fast as Devin White or Mack Wilson, but he is not slow. He may be a little more stout at the point of attack and shows good vision and ball skills along with a plus ability to read and decipher plays.
Here he is in zone coverage. He lets the QB’s eyes take him directly to the play. He is able to step in front of the receiver for a big play.
This is good awareness as Allen realizes that this is 1st and 10, and the receivers are running shorter routes. He doesn’t drop too deep so he can stay under the routes and either make the QB have to throw over him or step in front (like he did here to the TE) and intercept the pass. Allen shows great recognition of plays which allows him to be one of the best college LB’s in coverage and make a lot of tackles near the LOS.
Again he shows a good ability to read plays and somehow finds a hole to slither through on this play to make a strong forceful tackle in the backfield.
This is a really quick read, and he is off like he is shot out of a cannon. He is so quick through the hole that he gets to the play before the pulling TE a can make a wham block on him. Since receiving his second chance at Texas Tech, Allen takes things much more seriously including studying game film study and opponent tendencies. Obviously he read this play and knew the counter was coming back to the right.
I mentioned that he seems stouter at the point of attack, and here is a prime example. The RB has a five yard running start, and Allen stones him cold at the goal line. He is able to scrape down the line against a Texas team that has a very strong O-line against the weak Texas Tech D-line and make a play. These are actually two plays in a row where Allen takes the RB on and stuffs him at the goal line. The second time he gets a little more help.
That was a 220 lbs RB with a head of steam who got blown up one on one. There are so many things to like about this play. Allen had to sift through the traffic of his own line getting pushed back. He had to find the hole, square up the RB, and get lower than the RB to increase his leverage and then make a wrapped sure tackle. The second play you see the RB get hit. He pops up then is pushed back, because Allen had better leverage than the RB. To stop a RB cold on two successive plays at the goal line is impressive.
I also mentioned that Allen was not slow. Here he is in zone coverage giving ground in order to get depth. Once he sees the QB drop the ball off to the drag route, he puts his foot in the grass and makes a beeline to the receiver making a strong, sure tackle. The end result of the play is no gain even though the receiver caught the ball only a yard behind the line and Allen was 8 yards from the LOS.
This is nice recognition, but Allen also takes an aggressive angle and is rewarded by making the stop on a moving receiver at the LOS. If you notice on the last few plays, Allen wraps up on his tackles unlike many LBs who just throw a shoulder into their man and hopes he falls.
On this play Allen is starting 6 yards off the LOS, and OSU runs a well blocked off tackle play with a lead blocker. Somehow Allen is able to slice through the blockers and make a tackle for no gain. He reads the play quickly and makes his move in a decisive manner to stop the play, finding any opening to make the play.
I believe Allen is a kid who learned from his mistakes and now truly understands that his future is in his own hands. Having a scholarship taken away will make you realize how precious that opportunity is. He fought his way back by doing all the right things, and his teammates saw all the effort and how he had changed. For all that, his teammates elected him as the defensive captain, which says a lot about what he meant to his team.
He now highly values the chance he almost flushed away, and I submit he will become a better person than he was before. He will ultimately be taken off some Draft boards because of his past transgressions. This could slide him down in the Draft and be a value to some smart GM.
Texas Tech played a lot of zone coverage with their L’s but Allen is considered one of the best cover LB’s in the draft. This is an area that needs major improvement on the Jets,but the problem is that Mike Maccagnan gave a 3 year/$22 million contract to Avery Williamson. He only did that because he has no idea what he is doing. In this pass happy NFL you need LBs who can cover, and if you don’t have them you get lit up like the Jets defense did in 2018.
Depending upon how Allen does at the Combine his stock can rise or fall dramatically. His athletic prowess and football IQ are his best assets, and the fact he comes from Texas Tech is his worst trait. Texas Tech is not known for their defensive acuity, and GM’s will be biased against schools because of their history. It sounds stupid but it is true.
I think Allen could go anywhere from the mid second round to the early fourth round depending on different factors. The latter would be good for a wise GM with a early 4th round pick like some guy we know. We will have to wait to see how it all unfolds.