FS Allen Agrees to Terms
By Lance Epstein
On Tuesday night the Philadelphia Eagles and rookie Nate Allen agreed to terms on a four-year contract. Allen (6-2, 206) was the Eagles second-round pick (no. 37 overall) in this year's draft-- a pick acquired from the Washington Redskins for quarterback Donovan McNabb.
At The University of South Florida, Allen compiled 39 consecutive starts (played in 48 games), 224 tackles, two forced fumbles, nine interceptions and four touchdowns. His best season came during his senior campaign where he recorded 41 tackles, five interceptions and one forced fumble.
For the Eagles, the signing means that Allen will only miss the first day of training camp (no with contact drills) and should be at the 8:45 a.m. practice tomorrow morning (according to team sources). It is extremely important for him to get to camp as quickly as possible so he does not get far behind in the playbook. Additionally, fellow rookie and seventh-rounder Kurt Coleman had a very impressive first day of practice and is expected to push him for the job.
However what makes this signing even more important is the fact that free agent signing Marlin Jackson went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon in the team's OTAs. On the updated Eagles' depth chart, Allen is slotted to be the starter at free safety. Being a rookie in the NFL, he could use all the reps in practice he can get. In addition, it is vital for him to work on his communication with fellow teammate and safety tandem Quintin Mikell.
Furthermore, the Eagles defense used rookie Macho Harris play the free safety position last year. Unfortunately Harris struggled to replace the playmaking ability of the departed All-Pro Brian Dawkins. Now Harris has been moved back to his natural cornerback position, which makes the Eagles thin at safety. So getting Allen into camp and after missing only one-practice benefits the Eagles.
With Allen inking his deal, this leaves only first round pick Brandon Graham to be signed. Although that seems easier said than done according to Graham's agent Joel Siegel. He says that there is no framework to get a deal done considering wide receiver Dez Bryant is the only first-round pick to have signed his rookie deal.
Still, Graham might be able to help Trent Cole immensely in his rookie season, but the Eagles can survive his absence. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has depth with Ricky Sapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp and even Victor Abiamiri.
The same cannot be said with free safety position because Coleman, Mikell and Quintin Demps are the only other safeties expected to make the roster. While Coleman was impressive in his first training camp practice, he does not have the physical gifts that Allen has in his repertoire. Moreover, Demps was supposed to be the starting free safety last year, fell out of favor and failed to live up to expectations.