3 best team fits for defensive line prospect Jonathan Allen
Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is widely considered as a top-five talent in this year’s draft class, and it is not difficult to find him a good fit among teams since one of his strength is actually his versatility. Allen has played virtually all positions on the right side of Alabama’s defensive line, as a matter of fact, he played nearly the same amount of snaps as a 1-tech, a 3-tech, and as a 5-tech while he also logged eight snaps as a nose tackle and played a couple snaps from a two-point stance. Obviously, it is his production besides his versatility what makes Allen one of the best prospects in this year’s draft and here are some of the things he does best, along with three teams that make sense for Allen.
What he does best:
- Explodes into blockers and controls the line of scrimmage.
- Will stay square, work down the line of scrimmage in the run game.
- Has the power to push the pocket as a pass-rusher. Can compress pocket from interior or off the edge.
- Has quickness and hands to win on the inside against guards, versatile skillset allows him to rush passer from many different positions.
- Relentless with his hands, will pick up late pressures.
- Rarely loses on first contact against opposing blockers.
- Had few opportunities to play 6-tech, but would likely be dominant run defender as base DE.
While Allen is one of the most versatile defensive linemen in this year’s draft, his best fit is probably still as a 3-4 defensive end, which he could play in Chicago’s defense. Currently the Bears’ defensive line in base package consists of Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, and Mitch Unrein. While Hicks and Goldman both played considerably well in 2016 and graded out above 80.0, Unrein was unable to play at that level and earned an overall grade of just 51.8.
While Cornelius Washington flashed ability and had the third-best pass-rushing productivity among 3-4 defensive ends with 9.9, Unrein recorded just 12 pressures on 202 pass-rushing snaps, resulting in a pass-rushing productivity rating of 4.6, good for 34th in the league. As a comparison, Allen recorded 67 total pressures on 446 pass rushing snaps, earning him a pass-rushing productivity rating of 12.0, which was second among all 3-4 defensive ends in college football in 2016.
Although the Los Angeles Chargers selected edge rusher Joey Bosa in last year’s draft and he can bring pressure from the edge, the Chargers are still in need of interior pass rush, which has been a problem for them. While Brandon Mebane had a promising start to his season, it was cut short due to a biceps injury and he also turned 32 in January. In addition, the Chargers have only one interior defender who played more than 400 snaps last season and while Corey Liuget was on the field for 812 plays, he earned a lackluster grade of 49.3.
San Diego’s defensive ends were especially struggling against the run, as Liuget recorded the highest run-stop percentage with 7.1 percent, which was good for 20th-best among 3-4 defensive ends. In addition, Tenny Palepoi made a stop on 7 of his 128 run snaps (5.5 percent), which ranked 34th among 44 3-4 defensive ends. Allen could probably represent an immediate upgrade for Los Angeles’ front since he was tied for the best run-stop percentage in 2016 as he made 32 run stops on 278 snaps (11.5 percent).
Although it is unlikely that Allen will fall to the Bengals and an interior defender is not necessarily Cincinnati’s biggest need, he could be a good fit for Marvin Lewis’ team. The Bengals need to give interior defender Geno Atkins some help in rushing the passer. Last year Atkins recorded more pressures rushing from the inside than any other defensive lineman, even though defensive end Carlos Dunlap logged more pass-rushing snaps. Last season, Dunlap ranked 16th among 4-3 defensive ends with a pass-rushing productivity rating of 10.3, while veteran Michael Johnson recorded 41 total pressures on 467 pass-rushing snaps, resulting in a pass-rushing productivity rating of 6.9, which was good for 38th at his position.
Since Allen has plenty of experience to play on the edge, he could actually fit in the Bengals defense as a 4-3 defensive end in base package. Although he seems big for this role, Allen already demonstrated that he has the quickness to play on the edge and his physicality could cause even NFL offensive tackles some problem. In addition, he could kick in on third down and rush from the inside together with Atkins, which could give opposing offensive lines a great amount of trouble as Atkins already ranked second in the league among defensive tackles in pass-rushing productivity without getting plenty of help from his counterparts along the line.