After sitting out the majority of the 2013 season, Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen is ready to break out in a big way in 2014. The incredible form of Allen in 2012 flew under the radar with all the hysteria involving Andrew Luck’s greatness, Reggie Wayne’s injury and the Trent Richardson trade drama.
Allen was the second tight end taken by the Colts in their incredible 2012 draft class. Despite being taken after teammate Coby Fleener, the former Clemson star quickly emerged as the guy in Indianapolis. Allen finished the 2012 season ranked second amongst all tight ends by Pro Football Focus. Allen finished with a grade of +19.1 and was only beaten by Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
At first glance, Allen’s statistics from the 2012 season aren’t very flashy. He finished the season with 521 yards and just three touchdowns, but his role in the passing game was more than the bulk yardage. Allen’s hands became a safe target for the rookie quarterback. Allen caught over 70 percent of his targets and 30 of his catches resulted in first downs.
What is heavily underrated in Allen’s skill set is his abilities in the blocking game. Allen is an incredible blocker in both the passing and running game. In 2012, Pro Football Focus ranked him second among all tight ends in pass blocking finishing with a +3.6 score. He also finished third amongst all tight ends in run blocking with a +10.1 grade.
What is so great about Allen is that while ranked in the top tier in both pass and run blocking among all tight ends, he still manages to rank in the top 10 among tight ends in the passing game, finishing ninth overall with a +4.9 score. Allen was poised for a big role in the Pep Hamilton “no coast” offense in 2013 due to his versatility as both a fullback and an H-back. However, he went down with a hip injury during the first game after catching one 20-yard touchdown pass.
In replacing Allen, Fleener produced a sound effort in the passing game despite some inconsistencies. Fleener caught 62 percent of his targets compared to Allen’s 70 percent and struggled as a run blocker. He was ranked in the bottom third of the league amongst tight ends. Fleener’s pass protection was quite solid, however.
The return of Allen in 2014 will greatly improve the Colts’ rushing attack; his presence will allow the running back-by-committee of Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Richardson to hit holes when running to the weak side of a formation. His presence will not only give Luck yet another weapon at his disposal, but it should also allow Fleener to play the role as a pass-catching tight end working out wide and in different base formations.
Allen is reportedly as healthy as he has ever been, stating he is close to 110 percent. Look for him and his fellow teammates to rebuild that rapport from the 2012 season. If Allen can remain healthy, look for him to develop on an already impressive career and stamp his authority as a top-five talent in the NFL at the tight end position.