MADISON—Wisconsin defensive lineman Beau Allen isn’t exactly sure why he wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine last month, but it definitely bugged him.
He might have been one of the college seniors who got squeezed out when a record number of juniors declared for the draft early. Because information on underclassmen can be scarce, juniors will end up taking spots at the combine that otherwise might go to seniors.
Or the fact that six of Allen’s Wisconsin teammates went to Indianapolis might have prompted combine organizers to deem that number enough from a non-Rose Bowl Badgers team.
Whatever the case, Wisconsin’s pro day earlier this week became a big day for Allen, and the burly 6-2½, 329-pound interior lineman came away confident he had stated his case for getting drafted, combine invite or not.
“I was a little perturbed by the fact I didn’t go to the combine,” Allen said. “I wanted to go, obviously. Everyone kind of dreams of being on that big stage. But I think I did what I wanted to do today, show teams I’m athletic and that I can move well and jump high for a big guy. We had a great crowd here, so I think I showed what I wanted to show.”
With representatives from 20 NFL teams in attendance at the McClain Center adjacent to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Allen recorded a 31-inch vertical jump, pumped out 30 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and went through a battery of position drills.
Due to a hamstring tweak, he was clocked only in a 10-yard burst rather than a full 40-yard sprint, which was a decision he made not to risk his one opportunity to go through all the tests in front of scouts.
“It was the first test of the day, and I didn’t want (the hamstring) to tighten up the rest of the day,” he said, before the first of a few humorous cracks. “Let’s be honest, I’m 330 pounds, and coaches don’t want to see me run 40 yards anyway.”
They did want to see athleticism, which Allen has for a big guy. He also has some versatility, having played defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment for Wisconsin until last season, when the scheme changed to a 3-4 and he moved to nose guard.
The position switch led to a statistical dropoff for Allen, whose combined 13 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks in the 2011-12 seasons fell to two TFLs and 1½ sacks in 2013. But he knows he’s being judged on more than his numbers.
At the East-West Shrine Game in January, he saw the benefits of learning and playing two different schemes in college when he talked with reps from 20-plus teams, including Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.
“It’s great when you can get up on a white board in front of coaches and draw up either scheme,” Allen said. “I consider myself pretty smart and football savvy. I think that adds to my value, which is good.”
It has led to some uncertainty whether his NFL future is as a nose (head-up on the center) or a three-technique tackle (on the outside shoulder of the guard), but he feels he can play both.
He hinted that he really got to like the nose when he played it for the first time this past year and wishes he could get one more college season in that scheme. But he’s ready for whatever role he’s asked to play, and he’ll adjust his weight accordingly, having played at Wisconsin “anywhere from 312 to 345,” he said. “This (body) is just a piece of art. I can put weight on, take it off. Coaches can mold me into what they want.”
It might be tough to remove the chip on Allen’s shoulder due to the combine snub, but after a good pro day workout, he sounded as though he was starting to enjoy his under-the-radar status a bit.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “I think nose guard isn’t a very prestigious position. People don’t tend to get too hyped up about a 330-pound, long-haired, white nose guard from Wisconsin, so I’m trying to change that a little bit.”