Now that Justin Durant and Will Allen will be wearing the Star in 2013, we need to familiarize ourselves with each player. In that spirit, I asked Sean Yuille at Pride Of Detroit and Neal Coolong at Behind The Steel Curtain to give their opinions. Sean covered Justin Durant for the past two years and Neal covered Will Allen for the past three years.
On Durant, Sean gave me a short description that is pretty much the same we've been hearing and reading.
Justin Durant joined the Lions shortly after the end of the 2011 lockout. He immediately became a starter at outside linebacker, and he played a role in the Lions finally ending their playoff drought. This past season, Durant had the second-most tackles on the Lions, and the thinking was that the team would bring him back as a result. That didn't happen, though. The Lions instead opted to re-sign fellow outside linebacker DeAndre Levy, and they decided to give some of their younger linebackers a shot at taking over for Durant.
Durant became expendable with the Lions moving in another direction, but fans were sad to see him go. It won't take long for him to become a fan favorite off the field with his entertaining Twitter account, and on the field he is a pretty reliable outside linebacker. His pass coverage skills could be better, but he's really solid in stopping the run.
Basically, everybody says the same things. A very dependable, quality linebacker. Has good instincts for finding the ball in the run game, a sure tackler, maybe not the best cover guy.
By the way, you can find Durant's Twitter account, here.
The write-up I got from Neal about Will Allen was intriguing, and he took a dig at one of our rivals.
Will Allen was brought in to play special teams, and ended up being one of the more important players on the Steelers' defense in 2012. Through six weeks, the team was struggling defensively, particularly against the pass. After Allen was inserted into the starting lineup opposite Ryan Clark (Troy Polamalu was injured much of the 2012 season), the Steelers defense came together.
He's played and started for a top-ranked defense and played in a Super Bowl. He's been around some of the best defensive players and minds in the game, and if not for a need the Steelers have to get younger at the position, I'd feel they would have wanted to keep him in town.
Allen matches the general make-up of what the Steelers look for in their safeties; he's very smart. It's been a position filled with academics, 1400+ SATs coaches kids and field generals. They even cut a Rhodes Scholar (Myron Rolle, who couldn't beat Allen out for a roster spot despite being several years younger and coming at approximately 1/5th the price). Allen stuck with this team for three seasons, and played some pretty outstanding football in 2012. He was well-respected among SteelerNation, and we wish him the best with the Cowboys in 2013 and beyond.
The Steelers lost two back-up safeties to the NFC East this offseason; Ryan Mundy signed with the Giants, and Will Allen signed with the Cowboys. Cowboys 1, Giants 0. And it's probably not that close.
I haven't watched Will Allen play much, so it's hard to say, but he sounds like a guy who could challenge for the starting spot. If he doesn't start, he definitely sounds like a guy who could contribute, and his special teams play is supposed to be an added bonus.