All Austin Allen has done this year is make plays and set records. So it’s only fitting after one of the best statistical seasons by a tight end Austin Allen would declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. With only one game left in his Nebraska career we turn our attention to his NFL Draft outlook. As I look to project Allen to the NFL let’s take a look at what his best strength, biggest concern and where I think he could be taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
It’s no secret that Allen’s greatest strength is his receiving ability. Standing 6’9 he is an easy target for Adrian Martinez to throw the ball up into tight situations to help move the chains. Allen knows how to shield off defenders and using his length and soft hands he’s able to go up and high point the ball. Whether it’s the middle of the field or even in the red zone, his ability to make tough contested catches will make him a quarterback’s best friend.
But Allen is much more than just a contested catcher as he often was seen rumbling down the middle of the field for big catches. Against Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin the Huskers did a great job of sneaking Allen behind the linebackers off play action and allowing him to be wide open and reel off some big gains.
As a route runner Allen understands how to get to open space and is often finding open areas behind the linebackers to make his catches. Against Wisconsin Allen feasted on corner routes getting behind the linebackers as the receiver on his side pushed deep. This gave him plenty of room to get outside and for Martinez to hit him for some big gains.
To play tight end in the NFL having top end speed is not nearly as important as being able to make quick changes of direction at the top of your route. On the tape Allen doesn’t look like a bad athlete, but I wouldn’t say he is overly quick. Too often when he has to make a hard change of direction cut he will lose speed. Most of Allen’s big catches have either him being schemed open or him running to an open area.
Now that Allen has declared for the draft it will be interesting to see which NFL Draft All Star Game he gets invited to. The Senior Bowl would be the best case scenario but if Allen isn’t invited to Mobile he can still showcase his skills at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl or the Shrine Game. The next goal is for Allen to get invited to the NFL Combine, but at a minimum he will have a chance to showcase his athletic traits at the Nebraska Pro Day.
Already on the NFL’s radar, Austin Allen’s performance this season has solidified him as a draftable prospect. On average only 13 tight ends get drafted each year and at this point the 2022 tight end class isn’t as strong as past years. That does bode well for Allen and his chances of being drafted.
But where Allen does end up being selected I believe will largely be determined by his athletic testing numbers at either the Combine or his Pro Day. If Allen can run the 40 yard dash in the 4.7s or lower and have a vertical leap over 33” then I think Allen has a great shot of going in the 5th round area. But if Allen doesn’t hit that mark he’s looking at being a late round pick or potentially an undrafted free agent.