Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Dick “Night Train” Lane. Antonio Gates.
Over the years, there have been several undrafted free agents who have left indelible marks on the game of football. Despite not being seen as worthy enough of an NFL Draft selection, these players have overcome the odds and have gone on to become successful NFL players.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at of 10 of the undrafted free agents that the Chicago Bears signed this offseason to try and determine who stands the best chance of making it to the 53-man roster. In this article, we’ll take a look at the sixth player on the list: Hawaii alumnus Dejon Allen.
Allen is coming off of a fantastic redshirt senior year, in which he was named to the All-Mountain West First-Team. He has played at left tackle for the past two seasons but will be moving over to center in the NFL. He started off his collegiate career as a right guard, where he started 11 games as a redshirt freshman. Allen didn’t allow a single sack in 2014 and only allowed one in 2015. In addition to making the All-Mountain West First Team in his redshirt senior year, he was named to the Second Team in his redshirt junior year.
The sociology major was an All-San Gabriel Valley First-Team at offensive guard as a junior in high school, where he played for Dominguez High School in Compton, California. He was a multi-sport athlete, lettering in football, track and field, wrestling and baseball.
Unfortunately, there are no individualized cut ups for Allen, nor are there any highlight videos for him. The best one can do when looking for tape of his to search for a full game of Hawaii’s from last year.
Allen measured in at the NFL Combine at six-foot-three and 290 pounds, so he’s fairly light for an interior offensive lineman. That lack of bulk is apparent on tape, as his anchor in his lower body isn't very strong, and he doesn’t have much drive in his lower body. His pad level is a bit too high, which he will have to prioritize fixing with the move to center, if he hasn’t already. His Combine profile states that work ethic and discipline are questionable, and that he was penalized 21 times for 190 yards in his final two collegiate seasons. If he wants to make a career for himself in the NFL, then that will need to change.
Where his upside lies, though, is in his athleticism. He is a very good lateral mover, has quick feet and can quickly advance to the second level. He can move well in space, takes good angles to defenders and can maintain inside leverage on a consistent basis. Needless to say, he’s a very good fit in Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s zone blocking scheme. Although Allen played primarily at right guard and left tackle in college, he did see some snaps at center, so his position change shouldn’t be too big of an issue for him. If anything, his experience at other positions helps his chances of making the 53-man roster, as he can play at basically every position on the offensive line.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Allen has athletic upside, versatility and fits Chicago’s scheme well. He faces stiff competition to make it onto the 53-man roster, though, as the likes of Eric Kush, Jordan Morgan and Bradley Sowell are all favorites to make the team. If the Bears choose to carry nine offensive linemen, then Allen could be a more realistic option than Earl Watford, Hroniss Grasu or Matt McCants. The Chiefs carried nine linemen last year with Bears head coach Matt Nagy as their offensive coordinator, although it’s unlikely he had much say in the roster decisions, let alone on the offensive line. Allen’s most realistic outcome is to make it onto the practice squad and potentially make the team next year, when both Kush and Grasu could end up signing elsewhere in free agency.