Is Nate Allen at Free Safety Charles Woodson’s Perfect Sidekick?

The Oakland Raiders surprised some NFL observers by signing safety Nate Allen to a lucrative free-agent deal. If contract value is any guide, Allen was the team’s third-most important signing of the offseason.

Allen will make $12 million over the first two years of the deal, while fellow safety Charles Woodson will make a maximum of $4.2 million in 2015. Yet Allen is supposed to be some sort of sidekick for the future Hall of Famer.

If that’s the case, Allen might be the perfect sidekick, because he’s the real hero. He’s R2D2 and Woodson is C3PO. He’s Hobbes and Woodson is Calvin.

It’s no disrespect to Woodson. The reality is that he is 38 years old, so whoever was going to play the other safety spot was going to have to pick up some of the slack. Allen is 27, and the Raiders will ask him to do what he does best.

The Raiders discovered that Woodson was best playing in the box last season. After playing mostly free safety in 2013, Woodson played near the line of scrimmage more last year. The former cornerback just seemed more natural inside, where the Raiders could maximize his natural instincts. Opposing teams also couldn’t expose his lack of foot speed as easily in the box as they could when he played more center field.

By one objective measure, Pro Football Focus, Allen finished as the 28th-best safety in the league. Woodson finished 68th, which was also behind fellow safety Brandian Ross, who was 55th.

Allen was better last year, particularly when he plays the deep middle rather than lines up in the box or in the slot. That makes him a perfect pairing with Woodson.

New head coach Jack Del Rio also rarely asked his free safety in Denver, Rahim Moore, to play near the line of scrimmage last year. In fact, Moore might have played the deepest free safety in the league. Expect that to continue with Allen, barring injuries.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Oakland Raiders