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While he doesn't play defense anymore, New York Jets rookie running back Braelon Allen hasn't altered his mentality when it comes to how he plays the game. The Jets, who spent their 134th pick (fourth round) to land the former Wisconsin Badger in the 2024 NFL Draft, have added a punisher to their backfield.

Initially recruited by Wisconsin as a safety and linebacker, the school changed its mind after watching Allen run the ball during his final season in high school. Allen's unique blend of physicality and agility made him a handful for opposing defenses in college, and Allen is hoping to make a similar mark in the NFL

"Playing an offensive position with a defensive mindset," Allen told CBS Sports just before the draft. "Being the punisher and delivering the hits. ... When I'm running the ball hard, those first few series, it's a different game in the second half."

The ability to wear down a defense, Allen said, is probably his biggest strength as a running back. He said that he's probably most similar to Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl running back James Conner. Like Allen, Conner is a versatile player whose ability to alter his style to what his team needs at a specific time has led to his success in the NFL

Conner, like other backs, has had to fight the growing narrative that his position is interchangeable. Conner, though, has dispelled that narrative in Arizona. In 2021, he scored 18 total touchdowns while earning his second Pro Bowl nod. Last year, he had his second 1,000-yard rushing campaign that included 105 yards and two touchdowns in a game against the Steelers, his former team. 

Like Conner, Allen is hoping to show that, like any position, there are special players who play running back. He's hoping to be that running back for whomever selects him in the upcoming draft. 

"Showing them that I'm a different type of running back," said Allen, who has teamed up with Head & Shoulders and their Make Every Wash Count campaign. "I'm a complete package. I take a lot of pride in my pass protection. That's really what's going to separate you and keep you around." 

Allen is a self-described football junkie. When he's not playing football, the former Wisconsin running back and current NFL draft prospect said that he's probably either playing Madden, looking at film or watching YouTube highlights of other running backs. 

Given his passion for football, I wasn't terribly surprised with Allen's answer when I recently asked him to pick between choosing his top-four running backs of all-time or naming his favorite running backs. 

"I'll give you both," Allen said, starting with his list of the greatest backs of all-time. "Barry [Sanders], Walter [Payton], Eric Dickerson, and ... let's say Adrian Peterson."

Allen, who later added Jim Brown as his 4a or 4b running back, then said that Peterson, Payton, Earl Campbell and Derrick Henry were his favorite backs. 

While he wasn't included, Le'Veon Bell, a two-time All-Pro during his career, has made an impact on Allen, who initiated a conversation with the former Pittsburgh Steelers rusher with a DM. 

"Le'Veon's a guy that I like to study a lot," said Allen, who has reached out and received advice from scores of other backs. "That patience is something that he was especially known for. It's hard to emulate it. The Steelers ran a little bit of a different run scheme than we did, so it's not necessarily the same. But just being able to manipulate and set up defenses, make linebackers jump in one gap and you hit the other. Just kind of play with that, it's something that I admire a ton."

Patience was a unique aspect of Bell's game. Instead of quickly hitting the hole, Bell would sometimes wait behind the line of scrimmage before deciding where to go. Allen copied Bell's patient running style at Wisconsin, and the results have paid dividends. He left Madison as the fourth-best back in school history as far as career yards-per-carry average (5.9 yards) and fifth with 3,494 rushing yards. Allen and Jonathan Taylor are the only players in school history to record three seasons of at least 150 carries and 10 touchdown runs with a 5.25 yards-per-carry average. 

Despite his success, Bell's patient running style came with criticism. Running backs are often coached to be decisive when it comes to getting the ball and hitting the hole. Allen shared some advice Bell has given him in that regard. 

"Don't ignore the coaching points, but understand what you're doing, especially if it's working," Allen said. "I think you can kind of balance it out to where you start the game hitting the holes as hard and as fast as you can and getting those guys to commit to those gaps. Then, the next series, you're patient, you make them commit to that gap and you jump into the next one. 

"If you watch (Bell's) film deeply, you'll see that he has a good balance of both. If he needs those one or two yards, he's gonna hit it. But if it's just 1st-and-10, he's gonna set those guys up every time. Having that balance is important."