How Safety Nate Allen Improves Oakland Raiders Secondary

For the first time this season, we’ll see the Oakland Raiders secondary as a whole for an entire game with the return of safety Nate Allen.

The Raiders field the most generous secondary in the league, allowing an average 314.6 yards per game, and that’s with defensive back T.J. Carrie in the lineup for seven games. However, the statistics don't reflect the full potential of Oakland's pass defense.

According to Pro Football Focus, Allen played 11 snaps in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals before linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong made a tackle and rolled into his leg:

Initially, signing the sixth-year safety didn’t project as a big-time acquisition. In fact, many felt the Raiders overpaid him.

Oh, how the narrative has changed with context. News on his imminent return sparked widespread praise and optimism for his “ball-hawking” skills.

You hear the term used loosely in some cases, but what's a ball hawk? What skill set does a ball hawk possess? What does that type of player look like on film? 


Nate Allen: The Ball Hawk

When hearing the description ball hawk, former NFL safety Ed Reed and his 64 career interceptions in 13 seasons, comes to mind.

We’re not going to compare Allen to one of the greatest safeties of all time, but Reed embodies the skill set of a ball hawk. Allen’s play style takes on some of those skills on a smaller scale: anticipation, quick reaction and good hands.


Film Room Example No. 1: Week 17, 2014 Season

Allen locks in on New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s eyes after the snap. He’s concerned with the quarterback instead of the receivers at this point.

Manning spots his wideout Rueben Randle gaining ground on the defender and tries to squeeze a tight pass into a sma...

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