MOBILE, Ala. — Penn State S Marcus Allen is the sixth-leading tackler in Nittany Lions’ history and, fittingly, a self-described “enforcer."
Also fittingly, Allen has tackled questions at the Senior Bowl with ease, unsurprising when considering one of the mentors advising him — his godfather, Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin.
“Stay levelheaded. Take the process in stride and everything will go smoothly,” Allen said of the advice he received from Martin, No. 4 on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
When Allen isn’t seeking advice from Martin or stopping running backs in their tracks as a team captain on the NFL’s 14th-ranked rush ‘D,’ he’s stumping for his own running back, All-American Saquon Barkley.
“Saquon is going first overall. He’s got to,” Allen said Tuesday. “If he don’t, it’d be crazy.”
Unlike Barkley, though, Allen knows he still has questions to answer on the field to boost his own draft stock. They don’t relate to the 6-2, 215-pounder’s physicality and potential to play up in the box. They're on whether he can improve his ball production after tallying just one interception while at State College (Allen did have five forced fumbles and 11 pass breakups in his career.)
“Try to create more turnovers,” he said of what he needs to show NFL clubs. “That comes with taking risks and watching film. Not necessarily taking risks but knowing what’s going to come. … I just think I could showcase a little bit more, and there wouldn’t be that question out there — can Marcus cover or whatever.”
Allen said one factor in his lack of interceptions was the Penn State scheme, which mostly asked him to be a nosy run defender near the line who helps set the edge and the tone defensively. But that doesn’t mean he’s not capable, according to teammate and fellow Penn State record holder, TE Mike Gesicki.
“He can definitely [make plays on the ball],” said Gesicki. “Very talented. Extremely athletic. Great size. And he works on his ball skills every single day after practice … he’s a great competitor and one of the top safeties in the country.”
Ironically, Allen’s former teammate is Bears starting S Adrian Amos, who arrived in the NFL with questions regarding his tackling, not his cover ability. Amos, Chicago’s fifth-rounder in 2015 and a 40-game starter, has exceeded expectations — wait for it — as a tackler, while leaving the Bears wanting more as a playmaker.
But Allen said his perceived weakness will soon be known as a strength if he keeps grinding film, and studying QB tendencies. Who knows, maybe he'll even pick off teammate and Heisman winner Baker Mayfield in Thursday's final session.
"That’s somebody I believe is truly a great football player," Allen said.
What about Allen's own self scouting report?
"Marcus Allen is a big safety," he said. "Can move his hips, open up and move like a corner. What he needs to work in producing more turnovers. Comes down, brings it, likes to lay the wood. Should be a great NFL player one day."