Antonio Allen will shortly become a household name for members of Jets Nation.
The free safety was drafted in the seventh round of the 2o12 NFL Draft, out of South Carolina. Allen has played safety, at times, through his first two years in the league, being more heavily featured on special teams. Allen saw time in the secondary last season, but the Ed Reed signing significantly cut into his playing time. As of today, Allen is a starting safety on the roster. The Jets will likely add another safety before the season, whether it be via free agency or the draft. Regardless, Allen should be given the opportunity to compete for a significant role on defense come training camp this summer.
At the top of March, former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, stated the Allen has “freakish” talent, and that he could be the next Ed Reed.
Allen will break out this year because, quite simply, he is a playmaker. When he’s on the field, he makes things happen. Last year, Allen had 63 tackles, 7 pass deflections, one sack, and one interception. However, some of his greatest contributions came on special teams.
Allen blocked two punts in 2013, in key Jets wins.
On Monday Night Football, Allen blocked a punt against the Falcons that set the tone early. The Jets would go on to beat the Falcons on a last second field goal. Against the Raiders late in the season, Allen blocked a punt that would be recovered for a touchdown, adding to a Jets lead.
Undoubtedly, Antonio Allen’s biggest play of his NFL career came during week seven, against the Patriots.
If any Jet is looking to win over the fanbase: do something to beat Brady, Belichick, and the Pats. The Jets were down 21-10 at the start of the second half. The Jets desperately needed a spark. In stepped Antonio Allen. He intercepted a Tom Brady pass deep in his own territory and took it to the house, doing a flip into the endzone. Immediately, the entire feeling of the game changed. The Jets went on to beat their bitter rivals in overtime.
While Allen may not be the most talented or most athletic player at the position—as demonstrated by his low draft selection—he just has a knack for creating opportunities. Sometimes, that’s all that is really needed. Allen can change the complexion of a game in the blink of an eye, whether it be a blocked kick or a pick-six.
As long as Allen is disruptive on the football field, its going to become harder and harder for Rex to keep him on the sidelines.
Feature Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports