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2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin

Could Allen bring a physical dimension back to the Giants’ rushing attack?

Wisconsin v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

As of right now, we don’t know what the future holds for the New York Giants running back position. One thing is for sure, which is that it will be undergoing some measure of change in 2024.

At the very least, Matt Brieda could be moving on and 2023 rookie Eric Gray didn’t get many opportunities on offense. The door could be open for the Giants to select a runner at some point in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the question is what kind would they look at?

If the Giants opt to lean into the vertical aspect of their offense, as they did in the final third of the 2023 season, it could make sense to bring in a powerful runner as a counter punch to a speedy receiving corps. If so, Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen could be the running back for them.

Allen is listed at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds and runs with a very satisfying thud. That said, he also has the speed to eat up yardage in the open field. He’s also a very young prospect and declared for the NFL draft before his 20th birthday (which was on January 20th). Let’s see what the young man brings to the field.

Prospect: Braelon Allen (0)
Games Watched: vs. Buffalo (2023), vs. Illinois (2023), vs. Iowa (2023), vs. Ohio State (2023)

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 240 pounds

Strengths

  • Size
  • Power
  • Long speed
  • Competitive toughness
  • Downhill running
  • Passing game play

Braelon Allen has an uncommon blend of size and athleticism. He has a large, powerful frame at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds with obvious strength in his upper and lower body. Allen also has impressive quickness and speed despite his size and thickness.

He played out of both the shotgun and I-formation in Wisconsin’s run-heavy scheme, and was able to execute out of both alignments. Allen has an impressive burst for a big back as well as great speed in the open field. Allen is best described as a “one-cut” runner who’s best when getting north-south in a hurry. He runs with good tempo behind the line of scrimmage and is savvy enough to plot a path to the line of scrimmage that helps to set up his blockers. Once to the line, however, Allen steps on the gas and looks to explode through the hole.

He has solid vision as a runner, though he uses it more to anticipate contact than find holes. Allen’s vision informs him when to drop his hips to survive glancing blows, use a very tough stiff-arm to stave off would-be tacklers, or lower his shoulders to deliver hits. Allen is a very physical runner and seems to want to finish every run by running over a defender. He has enough speed to allow him to win the edge on off-tackle runs, but is most suited to blocking schemes that let him get downhill fastest, such as man-gap or inside zone plays.

Allen is a useful player in the passing game as both a receiver and as a pass blocker. Wisconsin mostly used him as a check-down option as opposed to a true receiving threat. That said, he executed his assignments well, presented a good target to the quarterback, and seems to have reliable hands. Allen is also a capable and reliable pass protector. He’s unafraid to step up and meet defenders, uses his size well, and is able to sustain his blocks well enough to buy his quarterback time.

Weaknesses

  • Ball security
  • Vision
  • Agility

Allen has a rare blend of size and athleticism, but he is much more of a linear athlete than most many running backs.

Allen is a true downhill runner and the best way for defenses to stop him is to force him to stop his feet and attempt to move laterally. He lacks the agility to make defenders miss in a phonebooth or force poor tackle attempts through which he can fight. That also limits him when his initial read is defended well and he’s forced to find a cutback lane.

Allen also needs to get better at securing the ball when he anticipates contact. He makes great use of a tough stiff-arm, but that leaves one hand on the ball as defenders close. He flashes the ability to tuck the ball away well or secure it with two hands when anticipating a lot of contact. However, he has a tendency to carry the ball loosely and let it drift away from his body as he runs, which lead to a pair of fumbles in the tape viewed.

Game Tape

Projection

Braelon Allen projects as a primary back in a downhill rushing game. He’s a well-rounded and athletic back who can stay on the field in and down or distance, though he won’t be for every blocking scheme.

Allen fits best as the counter-punch to a passing game that looks to spread the defense out. He isn’t necessarily an “inside” runner who only ever runs between the tackles. He’s capable of running off-tackle as well as through the A or B-gaps. But offenses should understand that he needs to get north-south as quickly as possible to maximize his effectiveness. Allen is also a back who doesn’t need to come off the field in obvious passing situations and can serve as either a pass protector, a check-down option, or as a downfield threat off of wheel routes.

He’ll likely start his career as a secondary back while he adapts to the NFL and earns coaches’ trust. Allen’s willingness to be physical, use a stiff arm, and seek out contact will get coaches excited. However, he also needs to be more consistent with his ball security. Allen has the potential to be a good back at the NFL level, but he won’t get the chance if he isn’t able to be on the field consistently.

Does he fit the Giants?
Yes. He could be a 3-down option who is platooned with Eric Gray or Saquon Barkley (assuming he’s re-signed).

Final Word: An early Day 3 pick