We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The fifth group—and final one on defense—will be safety. The Falcons kept things largely the same here heading into 2020, with the lone addition being fourth-round selection Jaylinn Hawkins as a developmental backup for Keanu Neal at strong safety.
Today, we take a closer look at veteran Ricardo Allen, a long-time starter and defensive leader at safety who has shown the versatility to line up just about anywhere in the secondary.
S Ricardo Allen
Age: 28 (29 during the 2020 season)
Contract: $7.375M cap hit in 2020, under contract through 2021 ($5.6M APY)
Career Production: 65 games played, 64 games started | 315 total tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks | 21 PD, 9 INT
2019 Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 85 total tackles, 4.0 TFL, 8.6% missed tackle rate | 8 PD, 2 INT, 69.2% completion percentage allowed, 105.6 passer rating allowed
Previous Teams: Drafted 5th round (#147 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2014-present)
Now the longest-tenured defender on the Falcons’ defense after the departure of Desmond Trufant, Ricardo Allen has had a very interesting career path in Atlanta. Originally drafted in 2014—the final year of Mike Smith—Allen was selected to be a CB, but was cut in favor of players like Javier Arenas and Dezmen Southward. He wound up on the practice squad for a year before Dan Quinn was hired as the HC.
Quinn immediately saw Allen’s potential and switched him to safety in training camp. Allen beat out all the other competition and wound up starting 14 games in 2015. He never looked back, seizing control of the starting role and emerging as a leader on the Falcons defense. Allen never had ideal size, speed, or measurables. Instead, Allen wins with his strong instincts, football IQ, and excellent technique.
While Allen has never been an elite free safety during his time in Atlanta, he’s been a good one at worst. The only knock on him as been health, as Allen missed nearly the entire 2018 season due to injury and recently had shoulder surgery this offseason. Still, Allen has shown no signs of slowing down and may very well be the smartest player on the entire defense. His work ethic is impeccable and his ability to inspire and coach-up his teammates makes him a very valuable player both on and off the field.
It’s also important to note that Allen does offer strong versatility in the secondary. At times over the past few seasons, Allen has spent time at free safety, strong safety, slot CB, and outside CB. He has experience all over the defense and can play just about any spot in a pinch—and do it at a solid level. If the Falcons have issues with their young CB group in 2020, don’t be surprised to see Allen start getting reps there.
Projection: Allen should be fully healthy coming off shoulder surgery in January, and I expect him to have another above-average season at free safety. He may be called upon to take snaps elsewhere in the secondary depending on injuries and poor play, but the Falcons will do everything they can to get him on the field in 2020.