Dakota Allen could be the first ‘Last Chance U’ player to get drafted into the NFL


The Texas Tech and East Mississippi linebacker could go in the middle or late rounds in 2019.


Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, a former star of Netflix’s Last Chance U can make history as the first regularly featured player from the show to be drafted.

Linebacker Dakota Allen, from Texas Tech, spent the 2016 season at East Mississippi Community College. He was on the show in Season 2, which aired in 2017.

Allen won’t be the first LCU or EMCC player to make it in the NFL, but he has a good chance of being the first one to get drafted.

One of the most notable EMCC alums is quarterback Chad Kelly, who went to the Scooba, Miss., JUCO from Clemson, before playing two seasons at Ole Miss. The Broncos made him Mr. Irrelevant in the 2017 draft. Kelly doesn’t quite count as a Last Chance U star, because his time at EMCC ended before Netflix’s cameras showed up in Scooba.

At least two EMCC players from the school’s two Netflix seasons signed undrafted free agent deals. Quarterback John Franklin III, who later converted to receiver and then DB, signed a deal with the Bears before the 2018 season. He started at Florida State and later spent seasons at both Auburn and FAU. Defensive back CJ Reavis, who went from Virginia Tech to EMCC to Marshall, signed with the Jaguars in 2018.

Allen had a winding college career, like most players to come through JUCO.

He arrived at Tech in 2014, and he redshirted as a freshman that year. He finished second on the team in tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2015, but lost his spot at Texas Tech because of a burglary charge in 2016. Prosecutors dropped the charges against him before the 2016 season, but the Red Raiders had already dismissed him by that point. He went to EMCC, where he led the team in tackles and was a model citizen on the show.

“Basically, everything you saw was what happened,” Allen said of the show, via the Dallas Morning News. “I lived it. That’s why I only watched it one time, so it was a repeat. I wouldn’t take anything away because I learned a lot from that experience, if that makes sense.

“I feel like now I have something to look forward to like my faith. I also learned whatever you put your mind to you got to keep pushing through it, you have to keep grinding towards it, and eventually you’ll get it.”

He returned to Tech after his season in Scooba, and had an impressive 2017 season for the Red Raiders:

Allen became the heart and soul for a defense that ranked dead last in the FBS last year. He was an absolute monster racking up 92 tackles, 12 for loss, and six turnovers forced, as well as leading the defense to a 120 yards per game allowed improvement from last season.

Allen was Tech’s most versatile defender. Stopping the run with 31 solo run stops and creating a no fly zone over the middle, allowing one reception every 22 passing plays. This among other reasons is why Allen was named to the PFF All-Big 12 team.

He had another strong season in 2018, but finished merely second on the team in total tackles while dealing with an injury late in the year and missing a game.

Allen’s skillset as a linebacker would fit well on any number of NFL teams.

While he can stop the run effectively, Allen has good instincts defending the pass, which is quite valuable for his position (especially as NFL offenses spread out). He had five interceptions throughout his college career — four at Tech, one at EMCC.

Watch his anticipation on this Kyle Allen pick, stepping in front of a crossing route:


And here, he shows off how he can fight off blocks and get through an offense line:


Check out his closing speed, too:


DraftScout.com ranks Dakota Allen as the No. 24 inside linebacker in the class, which suggests no guarantee he gets drafted. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has him listed as the best pass-coverage linebacker prospect in the 2019 draft class. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein says:

Allen is an inside linebacker with good toughness and intangibles but lacks the speed and instincts teams look for in the middle. He plays with good short-area quickness and a willingness to stick his nose into oncoming traffic in order to leverage his gap and set his teammates up for success. With adequate athleticism and the potential to become a core special teamer, Allen could hear his name called in the later rounds of the draft.

As the only Last Chance U player to receive a combine invite, Allen’s got a better shot of getting picked than anyone else in 2019. But as the show goes on, others will get their chances.

A few might get there in the future, including these Season 3 players from Independence Community College in Kansas:

  • Emmit Gooden, a defensive lineman now at Tennessee, who’s slated to be one of the Vols’ top returners on the line in 2019

  • Rakeem Boyd, a running back who had a great 2018 at Arkansas

  • Calvin Jackson Jr., a receiver who contributed for Washington State in 2018 and should be back doing that in 2019

If it doesn’t happen with Allen, it could still happen soon enough.

#DakotaAllen #LastChanceU #NFLDraft #TexasTech #EastMississippiCommunityCollege

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