Draft preview: S Nate Allen

Cowboys Draft Prospect: Nate Allen (0:35)

Nate Allen, S, South Florida (0:35)

ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.


School: South Florida

Size: 6-0 1/2, 207

Position: Safety

Scouts Inc. rank: No. 4 at safety, No. 54 overall (scouting report)


Nate Allen, who started his last 39 games at South Florida, is a smart free safety who possesses excellent leadership skills. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.5 40), but he has good range, in part because he does a good job diagnosing plays and has good instincts. He was a high school basketball star and has good leaping ability, allowing him to frequently win jump balls with receivers. His fluid hips give him the ability to play man coverage against most tight ends and some slot receivers.


He’s a tough guy and willing tackler, but he isn’t consistent enough in run support. He doesn’t always take the proper pursuit angles. He needs to do a better job of wrapping up, as he slides off too many tackles, and is vulnerable against elusive backs and receivers in space. He struggles getting off of blocks when matched up against tight ends. He had nine interceptions for South Florida, including four as a senior, but doesn’t have great hands.


Allen could compete immediately with Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin for the starting free safety job that’s open after the release of Ken Hamlin. He would be a reach at No. 27 overall, but the Cowboys could opt to trade down and target him with a second-round pick they acquire in the deal. His best asset might be his high football IQ, which is what the Cowboys valued most in Hamlin.