Don't dismiss undrafted Allen

His position in coach in college, who owns a Super Bowl ring, says Condrew Allen has a chance to make the Packers' roster. talks to Alundis Brice.

Sometimes, ignorance is rewarding.

Take my phone call to Portland State secondary coach Alundis Brice. All I wanted was a quick comment on cornerback Condrew Allen, who the Packers signed to a free-agent contract after he impressed as a tryout player at last weekend's rookie orientation camp.

I asked Brice if he had ever coached an NFL defensive back. No, he hadn't, since he is rather new to the coaching profession. But, he had won a Super Bowl ring with the Dallas Cowboys, and played for the Philadelphia Eagles and in the CFL.

To quote that famed philosopher Homer Simpson, "Doh!"

It's easy to peg the signing of Allen as just another guy who has no chance to make the roster. A camp body, so to speak, to keep veterans like Al Harris and Charles Woodson fresh during the dog days of training camp.

After all, Allen only started seven games during his career at the Football Championship Subdivision school. Heck, there's a chance he won't even get to training camp, since the Packers are going to have to release players once they start signing their draft picks.

But when someone like Brice — a former all-SEC cornerback at Mississippi who was a fourth-round pick in the 1995 draft — says Allen has a chance to make it to the NFL, you take notice.

"He has a big body," Brice said of the 6-foot-1 Allen, who he compares to his former Eagles teammate, former Pro Bowler Bobby Taylor, because of his size. "He really moves around well. He still has a lot of stuff he has to improve upon to make the club, and he knows he has a lot to improve.

"He has great feet, great size and great instincts. The negative is he's gotta get more courage. Once he gets that courage and belief, he's going to be a force because he has those attributes."

The words "courage," "belief" and "confidence" are spoken frequently by Brice. It's not that Allen lacks those traits, but it's because the NFL is a long way from a lower rung of Division I college football.

"It's so much different at that level," Brice said. "You can have a great attitude, but a lot of players, now they're star struck. ‘Oh my god, it's such-and-such.' You've got to look at him as if he's just another cat in front of you that you've got to dominate. He's going from the Big Sky (Conference) to the biggest stage in the world. You've got to make sure you have that swagger."

Still, it's hard to look past Allen's resume. Or lack of it. He started six games at cornerback and once at safety during his senior season. Those accounted for all seven of his collegiate starts on a team that finished just 3-8 and yielded 38 points per game in Jerry Glanville's first season as head coach.

But, he's got the size, smarts and speed (4.51 in the 40-yard dash) to make it in the NFL. And now, most importantly, he's got an opportunity.

"He's a kid that has a chance to go in and prove it to himself," Brice said. "He's not playing for his school anymore. He's playing to feed his family. He doesn't have a family, but that has to be his motto.

"This is his job now. You don't have that luxury of having a bad day, especially when you're a free agent. I've been telling him that for the last year. Every day is a football game, and he's got to prepare like every practice is a Sunday."

But can a small-school player who wasn't a big-time player somehow defy the odds and logic and make it in the NFL?

"I think he's got a chance," Brice said. "The hard part is getting in the door. A lot of players don't get in the door. He's in the door. Now, he has to maintain it, because it's his. You don't have to fight to get it, you just have to maintain it."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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