The Colts signed guard Andy Alleman to a one-year contract this week. Alleman finished his college career at Akron, starting at guard his final two seasons after transferring from Pitt, where he played defensive end for two seasons.
Heading into the 2007 NFL offseason, Alleman was considered to be a fringe prospect and was projected to go off the board as early as the fifth round. He put on a show at the 2007 Combine, though, running a 5.04 40, posting a short shuttle time of 4.65 seconds, and running the 10-yard dash in 1.76 seconds, which shows tremendous short-area quickness.
After that performance and his Pro Day in March — he also impressed a number of teams with his blue collar work ethic, as catalogued in this excellent feature by NorthwestFootball.net's Doug Farrar — he was eventually drafted in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft (88th overall) by the New Orleans Saints.
He spent his rookie season either on the bench or on the inactive list and didn't see the field at all during his rookie season. He was subsequently released by the Saints on August 30, 2008 and was quickly picked up off waivers by the Dolphins.
Miami released him after one season and four starts in 15 games and he was once again quickly signed, this time by the Kansas City Chiefs. The 2009 season was not as eventful for Alleman, as he appeared in nine games, starting four, with all of those starts coming after the team's 1-6 start and their bye week. According to Nick Athan of WarpaintIllustrated.com, "The Chiefs stopped using him about midway through the season. He was a Dolphin castoff and the Chiefs, so desperate for offensive line help, still cut him ... He was slow to develop and got many opportunities, but lost his job to Wade Smith."
Alleman has had his fair share of opportunities the past two seasons — and as a third round pick, he surely was given more than a fighting chance at a roster spot with New Orleans — and hasn't done much with them as yet. A resume that includes only 24 appearances and seven starts over three seasons is not what was expected of him when he was drafted. But, a closer look at the kinds off opportunities that he had makes his prospects of making the Indianapolis roster — and contributing — a little rosier.
When he was first drafted, expectations for him were probably too high given that he had only played the guard position for two seasons — he played defensive end in high school as well — and played against a lower level competition than a player in the Big 12 or SEC would have. He considers himself to be more of a technician than a mauler and had only so much time to work on his technique before heading to the NFL. He posted only 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press and likely needed to develop his upper body more to stand his ground against the massive defensive tackles at the highest level.
From there, he was released and joined a rebuilding Miami team that wasn't entirely sure what its depth chart was going to look like at any position when the season opened. The Dolphins did surprise a number of people by winning the division in 2008 and did settle on a depth chart that did not include Alleman by the start of the next season, but they were still a team in a state of transition, which is not the best situation for a player that is still developing to be in. When you add in the fact that Miami deployed more of a power running attack — one that would favor maulers over technicians — and the picture becomes clearer.
As for why he struggled to see the field on a Chiefs team in desperate need of warm bodies on the offensive line, that's more difficult to understand. As long as Alleman had some talent, ability, or motivation, he should have been able to stay on the team and probably should have been the starter. Instead, he started only three games after the season had been decided and Kansas City declined to offer him a contract as a restricted free agent, which then made him an unrestricted free agent. A player with athletic ability that considers himself to be a technician should fit into Todd Haley's scheme a lot better than he would have in Miami.
It could be that Alleman had given up hope towards the tail end of the third season of his thus-far unsuccessful NFL career. It could be that, even though he's an agile player with excellent short-area quickness, he lacks the determination that will be necessary to make the Colts roster.
But, with the Indianapolis depth chart as thin as it is, the fact that Alleman can also play center, and the fact that, according to NFL Analyst Adam Caplan, Ryan Lilja recently failed a team physical, it appears that the Colts are willing to take a chance on him. He has a number of physical attributes that Indianapolis looks for at the position, but only time will tell if he has the mental fortitude and focus.
If he does, he will be a valuable addition to the roster in terms of depth, as a number of the backups currently with the team have either been benched or don't have any starting experience at all.
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