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NY Jets: Where and when could Braelon Allen be deployed?

Braelon Allen, New York Jets
Braelon Allen, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets selected Braelon Allen with the 134th overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Is he an instant RB2 behind Breece Hall?

Going into the 2024 NFL draft, running back wasn’t exactly a position of need for the New York Jets. However, that didn’t stop New York from selecting two of them on day three. One of those players was Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen.

Allen showcased some incredible talent while at Wisconsin. His freshman year was especially impressive, where Allen rushed for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns at 17 years old. He also finished tied for second among FBS running backs (min. 100 carries) in yards per attempt (6.8), fourth in yards after contact per attempt (4.48), 16th in breakaway run percentage (47.9%), T-16th in 15+ yard runs, and 26th in elusiveness rating, per PFF.

Despite being known as mostly a power running back, Allen is an exceptionally fast player for his size. He also possesses surprisingly impressive pass-catching ability despite little utilization of it in college.

And before a scheme change in 2023, Allen saw most of his success running gap schemes – something that the Jets seem to be shifting their offense towards in 2024.

All of this begs the question – will Braelon Allen be getting more playing time for the Jets than some fans expect?

What to expect for the Jets backfield in 2024

It seems clear that the New York Jets want a running back to spell Breece Hall. The Jets were 29th among NFL teams last season in rushing attempts per game (22.8). However, Hall was 17th among all running backs with 223 attempts, averaging just over 13 attempts per game. Playing from behind clearly didn’t help the Jets offense. It’s also quite clear that the team severely lacked a RB2 last season. That is where Braelon Allen will see his opportunity.

There’s no question that Hall is one of the most elite running backs in the NFL. However, even elite running backs need time off the field to catch their breath. One of those times could be in the red zone.

While the Jets didn’t get many opportunities in the red zone last season, it’s one of the few places where we saw Hall underperform. The 22-year old saw 56.8% of the team’s rushing attempts in the red zone. However, Hall was the only player in the NFL with at least 50% of their team’s rushing share in the red zone to score less than three touchdowns (two).

Those two touchdowns were scored inside of the 10-yard line. There, only Hall and Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon were the only running backs who had at least 43% of the team’s rushing share within the 10-yard line and less than three touchdowns. Much of that may be due to the stacked fronts Hall faces in the red zone.

On average, the Jets’ running back faced a stacked front on only 17% of his carries last season – good for 36th among running backs. And, despite his elite metrics in most categories, Hall was stuffed at the LOS on 24.7% of his attempts. That is the fourth-highest percentage among all running backs. Considering the Jets averaged a paltry 2.8 yards per carry in the red zone, it’s not impossible to believe that the Jets want a more demanding presence in those situations. Enter Braelon Allen.

Throughout his career at Wisconsin, Allen had to face stacked boxes at an incredible rate. Only Audric Estime (34%) had a higher heavy box percentage than Allen’s 32%.

Graphic credit to @DurstNFLDraft

Yet despite facing an incredibly high amount of stacked boxes, Allen rarely saw himself stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Even with a change of scheme in 2023, it did little to affect Allen’s ability to churn yards out of nothing. In fact, only three other running backs in the 2024 class saw their attempts stuffed on less than 13% of their carries while taking at least 500 attempts. Among those, only UCLA running back Carson Steele had a higher yards after contact per attempt than Allen.

This strength could be what the Jets look to take advantage of in Allen’s rookie season. The team can allow Hall to take advantage of light boxes between the twenties. Then, in short yardage or red zone situations, Allen could find himself in a sub-package.

At the end of the day, Allen enters his rookie season as a 20-year-old with plenty of opportunity to grow. Whether his ceiling is a bruising spell-back, a true 1B, or a potential featured back remains to be determined. But given his current strengths, we’ll likely see him start his career in these unique situations.

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