While bigger name NFL tight ends like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Julius Thomas take the headlines, the Colts’ Dwayne Allen remains a bit of an afterthought to the casual NFL observer. To be honest, on a Colts’ offense that features Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and T.Y. Hilton, his name even sometimes get lost in the shuffle on his own team.
Sep 15, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (83) warms up before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
However, while Allen may be underrated, he’s certainly not underappreciated by both his team and Colts’ fans. Dwayne Allen is the rare tight end, who seemingly does it all. He can catch, block, and run; a rare trifecta of skills for the tight end position in today’s NFL. At a listed 6’3″, 265 pounds, the big bodied Allen moves surprisingly well for his size.
To be honest, it still stuns me that he was available in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft, coming out of Clemson early as a junior. After winning the Mackey Award as the Nation’s best tight end and being a 1st-team All-ACC selection in 2012, Allen was highly productive in his final collegiate season.
Perhaps, it was the somewhat slow 4.89 forty-time in his 2012 NFL Combine. However, while Allen’s speed may not translate completely in drills, it does just fine in games, as he blew past defenders on the sideline en route to a 32-yard touchdown reception last weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s just not the surprising speed either, it’s his hands. He’s currently tied for 3rd in the NFL with 5 touchdowns, only behind Julius Thomas (9) and Antonio Gates (7). He’s caught a touchdown in 5 of the Colts’ 7 games this season. An impressive feat for a player, who admittedly “didn’t expect to be used much in red-zone situations entering the season”.
While there’s a lot of great “run and catch” tight ends out there, what truly separates Allen is his great blocking ability. According to the advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus (PFF), Allen is tied for 2nd in run blocking among all tight ends playing in +50% of their team’s offensive snaps. A skill-set he possesses that clearly is better than some of his bigger name counterparts like Jimmy Graham (8th), Julius Thomas (11th), and Rob Gronkowski (18th) in that regard [PFF].
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The free agent addition of Hakeem Nicks, as well as returns of both Reggie Wayne and Ahmad Bradshaw may have drawn the attention away, but it’s Allen’s return that may have elevated the offense most of all.
He was sorely missed in 2013, after playing in only 30 snaps during Week 1 against Oakland before being lost to season-ending hip surgery. His versatility in both the run and passing game is something that the Colts simply couldn’t replace. They have it back now, on what has become one of the league’s most prolific offenses, 2nd in points (30.9 ppg), and 1st in total yards per game (452.9 ypg).
His versatility is a big reason as to why, yes, the Indianapolis Colts’ Dwayne Allen is currently graded as the 4th best tight end overall in the NFL according to PFF. At age 24, he’s the youngest tight end among their Top 10 graded. The scary thought is that Allen’s game could still grow, can something that’s already complete, get more complete? We’ll find out…
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (83) runs to the sidelines in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Colts 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports