#30, Asher Allen (5094, 194, 4.33-4.53) Georgia
Notes: Born 1/22/88, in Tucker, Ga., where he attended Tucker High. Also competed in basketball and track in high school. He's a cousin of former star NFL receiver Michael Irvin (Cowboys). A standout on both sides of the ball, Allen played running back, receiver, safety and corner for head coach Bill Ballard. He is also a standout in track in which he competes in the 100M, 200M, and the 4x100M. As a junior, Allen helped lead his team to a 12-1 record by rushing for over 800 yards and nine touchdowns. He added 80 tackles and two interceptions on defense and returned two punts for touchdowns. Allen carried a 3.85 GPA/1400 SAT coming out of high school.
College: He enrolled at UGA in January 2006 after early graduation from high school. Also received scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Michigan, Notre Dame and Auburn. Played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2006, posting 24 tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss on defense. Also returned kickoffs 19-42 (22.1 avg.) and punts 4-54 (13.5 avg.). Became the starting strong-side cornerback early in 2007; finished second on the team in tackles as he recorded 64 tackles, 5 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, 3 TFL, 2 sacks and one fumble recovery. Also returned kickoffs 28-690 (24.6 avg.). Started all 13 games in 2008, registered 53 tackles, 7 PBU, 4.5 TFL and returned punts 5-91 (18.2 avg.). Played with a fractured bone in his hand and wore a cast to the protect the injury during the team’s final five games. Declared for the NFL Draft as a junior. Majored in health promotion.
Predraft: Combine numbers included 1.50 10-yard dash, 2.59 20-yard dash, 4.48 40-yard dash, 35-inch vertical jump, 9’7” broad jump, 4.30 20-yard shuttle, 6.93 three-cone drill and 22 reps at 225 pounds. A correction to his 40-yard takeoff technique helped him produce a 4.33-4.39 time on the same artificial turf surface. Allen explained that the electronic stopwatch at the Combine was activated by a bit of a rolling start after watching film of his performance at Indianapolis.
Pro: Third-round pick (No. 86 overall) by the Vikings. Was the highest-rated cornerback on their draft board at the time and felt he represented good value. Among teams he visited prior to the draft were the Falcons, Panthers, Eagles, Giants and Browns.
Positives: Smart, confident, athletic and aware football player. Solid character. Plays with suddenness. Decisive. Comes up aggressively on run support. Doesn’t stay blocked. Feisty, determined, submarine-style tackler in the open field. Breaks down in space and is a reliable tackler. Not afraid to mix it up and deliver a blow. Will attack receivers physically with his jam at the line of scrimmage. Experienced in the slot. Well-built and strong for his size (22 reps at 225). Physically and mentally tough. Plays the ball well in front of him and can effectively jump routes. Good cover skills and speed. Good burst and closing speed on the ball. Effective blitzer off the edge and blowing up screens. Proven, reliable, effective, consistent kickoff returner. Very good run vision in the open field. Shifty, nifty and elusive. Quick to hit the seam or openings. Sees cutback lanes. Good special teams player. Was well-liked by support staff and media who interacted with him while at UGA.
Negatives: Lacks ideal height. Has smallish hands. Needs to play tighter on inside coverage at times. Does not have great top-end long speed to run with elite receivers deep downfield. Struggles to catch up if beaten. Bites on double-moves at times. Gets tied up with blockers at times.
Similar to: Antoine Winfield (Vikings) or Nathan Vasher (Bears).
Summary: A very nice fit for Minnesota’s scheme. Allen should push for the nickel cornerback spot as a rookie and will also contribute on special teams.
What they said:
“Like all these corners, they have to adjust to the physical style of play in the NFL. But we like what he can give us potentially as an inside nickel corner, probably initially. And then we’ll just have to see where it goes from there. He’s also has some history as a kickoff returner. Whether we opt to use him that way, we’ll just have to wait and see. But he’s a good athlete, he has very good football character, he brings a lot of energy to his play and he’s a fairly mature player for a junior and a young player. Would we like him a little bit bigger and a little bit faster? Yeah, but that’s why we got him in the third round… We have the stigma of being a Cover-2 team, but we play a lot of man as well and he’s got very good short-area quickness. He has man cover skills, which we need in our defense. The mantra for a Cover-2 corner is a bigger more physical player, but he can do that. It will take some time for him to adjust to the physical style of playing outside at our level and supporting the run. But he’s done it at Georgia. He’s played against a high level of competition for a long time.” –Scott Studwell, Vikings director of college scouting
“I'm a complete cornerback. There's not a situation where I can't be on the field. I can play nickel back, I can play cornerback. We had some coverages where I played safety. I can play the run extremely well and play the pass, I'm a team leader – in those interviews, you get questions about off-the-field issues, and I've been blessed not to have done anything that was bad… I didn't have any of those issues… I'm a high-character guy… I'm there to play football. That's my job, and that's what I'm going to do. And nothing's going to get in the way of that.” -Allen
“It fits perfectly. I can press. I can press zone. There are a lot of weapons I believe I bring to the game. That defense when ran correctly is very tough to beat and hopefully I can be a part of that wherever it’s at. I believe I can play anywhere (in the defensive backfield) but the nickel back is something I did when I first got to Georgia and whenever we had problems with a certain receiver, I would go to nickel. I’m very familiar with playing nickel. I think I come in with a prior knowledge of the defense and will be a quick learner.” –Allen, on fitting in with the Vikings
“Allen is a mature kid who was asked to play in space, on an island, against SEC competition since his sophomore year. He showcases a confident demeanor and good overall technique and possesses the instincts to be an ideal fit in the Vikings’ Cover-2 scheme. Allen is a lot tougher than given credit for and isn’t afraid to stick his head in vs. the run game. I think the comparisons of Allen to current teammate Antoine Winfield are premature, but at the same time, I can definitely see Allen starting within the next couple of years. His role in 2009 may be more as a nickel or dime back, but the Vikings did an excellent job identifying a guy who fits what they want to do and picking up a potential starter in round three.” –Wes Bunting, National Football Post
“Zone-press, Cover-2 corner who lacks ideal long speed but should come in and compete for time as a nickel defender.” -Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
“Allen’s height will be an issue for him in the NFL, but he’s a solidly built kid. He has decent, but not great, recovery speed, and when you have a guy who’s only 5-9 ½, you’re looking for 4.4-speed, and he’s in the 4.50 range. Allen has decent coverage skills, though he’s not a big time ball hawk. Now, he is a very good tackler and will give up his body on run support. He’ll also contribute in the return game. Allen is a good, but not great, all-around cornerback. He was a spunky player at Georgia and is probably looking at being a third or fourth cornerback at the pro level.” -Mel Kiper, Jr.
“The Vikings want a young corner in case Antoine Winfield leaves when his contract is up in a season, and Allen is a very similar player to Winfield. He is a very tough player who plays with a real chip on his shoulder and showed great ball skills to break up and intercept passes as a junior. We expect him to become an elite special teams coverage man early in his career before he becomes a good starting cornerback.” –The War Room
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