For all the draft speculation linking Eric Berry and Earl Thomas to the Cleveland Browns, an ideal safety candidate might still be available in the second round: South Florida's Nate Allen, who visited with the Browns earlier this off-season.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Allen has the total package that the Browns desire, from on-the-field skills (nine interceptions as a three-year starter, including four as a senior) to off-the-field character (3.3 grade point average and one class short of getting his degree in three-and-a-half years).
"I'm ready to start playing football. It's been the longest offseason I've ever had," Allen told Scout.com with a laugh. "Living in the airports and all of that, it's tiring. I was sleeping in the airports, just laid out there. It was good though."
Allen arrived at South Florida as a quarterback after earning all-state honors as a junior and senior in Cape Coral, Fla. With NFL aspirations, though, he knew his height would work against him at quarterback so he made the move to defense.
It was a wise decision. After playing as a backup as a true freshman, Allen picked off four passes as a sophomore, one as a junior and four more as a senior. The strength of Allen's game is pass defense, and being able to get inside the quarterback's head is a huge asset.
"Just knowing how it feels and maybe what they're seeing as far as their checkdowns and where their eyes are looking, it definitely can help you," he said.
Allen comes from an athletic background. His father, Jackie, played basketball in Europe, though Allen was born in the United States. Allen received some offers to play basketball out of high school but he figured football was his best ticket to the pros. He credits his family for where he's at today.
"My whole family — my mom and dad and my aunt and uncle, Virginia and Bill," he said. "I'm a family guy and they're the most important thing in my life. They've helped me along and raised me to be the man I am today, and I'm thankful for that. I've been blessed to have parents like that and a supporting cast like that."
In a deep class of safeties, Allen is destined to go in the second round. He might be a strong option for a trade-up, considering how the Browns let concussion-suffering Brodney Pool move on during the off-season.
"It's going to be surreal," Allen said. "I don't even think it's sunk in yet that it's really about to happen. I just can't believe it. This is what I dreamed about. Now I'm getting ready to start playing against some of these guys. It's incredible. I'm so blessed to have the opportunity."