The brick wall in the middle of the dominant Alabama defense is off to the NFL, and there are plenty of suitors looking to draft him. Jonathan Allen is the next defensive stud to come out of the Alabama Crimson Tide NFL pipeline. He is big and fast in the middle of the defensive line, and can even score the occasional big man touchdown. But the question is, what city will he be terrorizing quarterbacks in this fall?
Allen had a very impressive broad jump and showed off his strength in front of the scouts at the combine in Indianapolis.
Weight: 286 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 5.00 seconds
Bench Press: 21 reps
Vertical Jump: 30 inches
Broad Jump: 108 inches
Three Cone Drill: 7.49 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.50 seconds
Right off the bat on tape, Allen can play everywhere on the defensive line. The strengths of his came apply to both a defensive end and a defensive tackle, and that allowed the Alabama coaching staff to be very flexible in how they used him.
His hands are also quick and strong no matter where he is lined up. He uses the hands to muscle his way through centers and guards when he is lined up in the middle of the field. He can break through the line with incredible speed and efficiency when he is in the middle. When he is through his run stopping ability is what scares offenses the most. When a running back comes at him he has an incredible knack to wrap up and slam the back down hard. Allen rarely misses tackles and the ones he does make are always tough.
His speed in the open field is also alarmingly quick. His 40-yard dash time doesn’t open a lot of eyes, but when he’s on the chase in the open field he is deceptively quick. This helps him get at the quarterback when he is playing at defensive end and gets around the offensive tackle.
Overall, versatility is the key thing that I see. He can play in a lot of different game situations and schemes to be successful. I can envision him working in a 3-4 or a 4-3, and as a pass rusher or run stuffer within the games. This Swiss army knife trait is so crucial in today’s NFL.
Like I said, he is listed as a defensive end but looks a lot more like a defensive tackle. His reach at the combine and in Tuscaloosa was not his strong suit, and against tackles with long arms he could struggle to shed blocks and beat them.
A further aspect of his game that could concern some NFL scouts is that the speed I mentioned earlier applies more to open space when he’s in pursuit. When it comes to moving around the line of scrimmage and setting the edges, that is where his game leaves a lot to be desired. Even with good speed for a defensive lineman, quick NFL running backs will be able to get around him and get into the second level if Allen doesn’t get them with his initial move.
The argument could also be made that all of his stats and plays look better because of a host of other NFL talent around him. Teams had to run the ball more because of Marlon Humphrey was the lead cornerback. And avoiding the middle of the field was a necessity for opponents of the Crimson Tide because Reuben Foster and Tim Williams lurked at linebacker.
Allen got a lot of traffic his way, and that allowed him to make more plays. If he is drafted as highly as many people think he will be, he won’t have that luxury.
Allen is one of the most talented players in this entire draft class. He should be the first defensive end off the board behind Myles Garrett, and the options Allen gives whatever defensive coordinator ends up with him gives him the tools to be hugely successful. He’s got the hands, speed, and tackling ability to be a force at the NFL level for years to come.
Draft Prediction: Allen will go somewhere in the top 10. I can see him going as high as #2 to the San Francisco 49ers, and not dropping any lower than the Cincinnati Bengals at #9.