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Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen is no Darqueze Dennard. This much is certain.
Dennard is the Michigan State standout projected as one of the best cornerbacks in next week's NFL Draft. Dennard, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Ohio State's Bradley Roby rate as the top three cornerbacks.
Allen is well down the list. He does not figure to hear his name called in May 8's opening-round event. He likely won't be called for May 9's second and third rounds.
After that, all things are possible for a player known for his big-play capabilities, and he pushes the optimism for all that it's worth.
For instance, here are some of his recent tweets on his draft prospects:
“Statistically, I'm not supposed to be in my position. That's how I know I'm blessed!”
“You can't be king of the streets and the king of your dreams. You have to pick one!”
“Fair = expecting a lion not to eat you because you didn't eat him. Nothing in life is fair. If you want it, GO GET IT.”
“Great workout with the Colts today (Friday). I know the Purdue family would love that.”
Allen figures to get some kind of love by the time the draft is over. NFLDraftscout.com rates him as the No. 132 player overall in the draft and the No. 19 cornerback. He lacks lockdown speed (he ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash in the NFL Combine and improved to a 4.51 at Purdue's Pro Day). At 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, he isn't the biggest and strongest cornerback in the draft.
But instinct and athleticism give Allen a chance in a league where playmakers thrive. He set the Purdue career record by returning four interceptions for touchdowns. That's one more than former Boilers All-American (and Snider standout) Rod Woodson totaled. Allen's 13 career interceptions rank second in school history.
This past season he had 53 tackles, including four for loss, with a sack. He had three pass breakups and nine passes defended. He led Purdue with six interceptions and 42 return yards.
CBSsports.com's Dane Brugler wrote this about Allen:
“He has quick, coordinated footwork to drive fast and furious on plays with enough make-up speed to compensate for his aggressive play style. He is battled tested and plays with supreme confidence, often attempting to get into the opponent's head with his gift for gab.
“Loves to throw his body around. Allen always believes a ball in the air belongs to him and displays reliable ball skills with a knack for making something happen after the interception.
“Allen has limited strength and can be easily out-muscled by receivers. He will bite on pumps and fakes, and needs to improve his overall discipline and body positioning so he doesn't get turned around, especially on post and corner routes.”
NFL Combine analyst Nolan Nawrocki praised Allen's “good athleticism and fluidity,” and said he showed “good closing burst.” The biggest problem, Nawrocki wrote, was that Allen is “at a physical disadvantage (against) bigger receivers,” and has “limited press and tackle strength.”
In other words, there is concern Allen would get roughed up by the NFL's big, physical receivers.
To that, Allen had this to tweet:
“Everyone can't be the top dog, someone has to be the dark horse. It also makes for a better success story.”