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RB Braelon Allen’s ‘downhill’ style matches what Packers want in a ‘bigger back’

The Green Bay Packers have to address the running back position this offseason and will most likely do so through the draft. Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen fits what GM Brian Gutekunst is looking for.

The Packers need to rework Aaron Jones’ deal, but all signs as of now point to him returning for the 2024 season. AJ Dillon, however, is a free agent, and Tom Silverstein reported that he is not expected to return.

With Emanuel Wilson – an exclusive rights free agent – and Ellis Merriweather as the only other running backs on the roster, the Packers have to find a secondary option behind Jones. And like Dillon, Gutekunst told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine this past week that he would like to have one “bigger back” on the roster.

“I do think we would always like to have one power, bigger back on the roster for short-yardage situations and playing in the weather and closing out games,” Gutekunst said via Packers.com.

Allen hasn’t officially measured in at the Combine yet, but he’s listed at 6-2 and 245 pounds, providing that bigger frame Gutekunst is in search of.

He finished just 18 yards shy in 2023 of rushing for at least 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons at Wisconsin. Allen averaged 5.8 yards per carry, including 5.4 this past season, and scored 35 rushing touchdowns.

“I bring a lot of physicality and a downhill running style,” said Allen at the NFL Combine. “A more old school style, but I can also catch the ball and run routes, pass protect, and I think I bring a lot of value in that way. Just being versatile.

“Of course, there’s a lot of things I want to work on and get better at, more consistent, at the end of the day, I’m young and have a long way to go until I’m fully developed. In the right system, at the right place, I can be a great player.”

Along with a running back’s ability as a ball carrier, both Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur have discussed the importance of also being able to a reliable pass-blocker and pass-catcher within the Packers’ offense. Its a back’s ability in these two phases that can determine who the second and third running backs on the roster are.

This has been two areas of emphasis for Allen to showcase that he is a well-rounded running back, which included more opportunities to handle both roles this past season.

For his career, Allen caught 49-of-60 passes for 274 yards. This past season, he had 28 catches on 30 targets – both career highs – for 131 yards. He also saw way more pass-blocking opportunities as well.

“It’s helped my stock,” said Allen. “Teams saw that I can catch the ball. Obviously going to show more of that on Saturday, but had to pass protect a lot more, and those are two things that NFL teams are looking for in a back, especially a guy that’s my size and seen more as a bruiser back. I want to be able to put different things on tape.”

While Gutekunst has a specific skill set he’s looking to add to the roster, what this Packers team also needs at the running back position is more juice behind Jones.

As Jones has dealt with injuries over his career, and the Packers have been mindful of his snap count, they’ve had to rely heavily on Dillon as the second running back. And while there aren’t many who can do what Jones does when he’s at his best, Green Bay needs more playmaking potential behind him.

Dillon averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in 2023 and ranked 41st in missed tackles forced, 47th in rushes of 10 or more yards, and 46th in average yards after contact. When the run game is limited, oftentimes, so is the rest of the offense.

Allen will showcase his athletic ability at the NFL Combine, but from an on-field standpoint, he ranked 13th nationally in average yards after contact in 2023 and 30th in rushes of 10 or more yards in 2022.

“The thing that has separated me and I think separates me from other players in the class is my IQ,” Allen said. “I see the game from a different lens, a different perspective, and I take my studying very seriously. It’s something I take a lot of pride in.”

Allen is still just 20 years old, something that will be a factor for teams who are interested in adding to the running back position on Day 2 of the draft. Running back is a position where the workload and number of carries add up quickly over time, so Allen having less mileage in comparison to other backs, especially as a physical ball carrier, is seen as an advantage for him.

“Of course, I think it helps me,” added Allen. “You want a guy who’s still a little more fresh. Has some development that can be made still. I think it’s definitely an advantage.”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire