When an NFL offensive line coach sees that a young lineman was a high school wrestler, a smile comes across his face. Grappling in the trenches is what a lineman does -- and is something at which Allen excels. The former Illinois state title holder at 285 pounds is not the largest center in the country, but no other "man in the middle" matches this four-year starter's toughness, anchor, and aggressive nature. The two-time USA Today All-American missed a couple of games with an ankle injury in 2015, but came back to help his team to a Big Ten title.
Has a compact build with above average core strength. Was a standout wrestler in high school and uses that background to generate quick torques and turns on defenders. Understands his strengths and physical limitations. Possesses great strength in his hands and can snatch and ride defenders until the whistle sounds. Rarely has his hands outside defender's framework. Combines arm extension and running feet to redirect gap shooters away from his quarterback. Card-carrying tough guy willing to put some extra spice on it when he finishes a block. On the move, can adjust tempo and angle to land a squared block. Climbs up to middle linebackers with choppy steps and balanced base. Despite a lack of athleticism, still has plus body control. Hits where he aims. Flat-footed puncher in pass pro.
Average athleticism and very moderate flexibility. Is a little bit stiff in space. Inconsistent in his attempts to climb up to second level off of combo blocks. Will struggle to get cutoff blocks against instinctive, inside linebackers who will beat him to the spot. Able to get away with holding more often in college than he will be able to in the pros. At times, will rely on brute force over physical ability. When he has to anchor up against bull rushers, his balance diminishes. Doesn't have the mass or length that some teams would like in a starting center.
Despite having a cat named "Bubbles," Allen is a coach's dream with the leadership, competitiveness and the tenacious mindset to grind out the will of defenders by the end of the fourth quarter. While there are clearly some athletic limitations, Allen is especially adept at minimizing those while accentuating his strengths. There are too many check marks in his favor to expect him to fall short of an NFL career as an eventual starter.