Jonathan Allen is a 2013 five-star recruit who has started 23 of 41 career games played in college. Plays multiple positions in Alabama’s 4-3 front, including three technique defensive tackle and six/seven technique defensive end. Finished college career with 18 sacks, including a team-leading 12 in 2015. Also led the Crimson Tide with 14.5 tackles for a loss this season. Solid height/weight combination with a thick frame and adequate athletic ability.
Weight: 283 lbs
Estimated 40-Yard Dash: mid 4.7s
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Displays very good mental processing skills with his ability to read and react to the offense after the snap. Initiates contact with offensive lineman, gaining immediate leverage with his low pad level, strong hands and lower body strength. Demonstrates good play strength with quick hands, swatting away offensive lineman’s punch and countering with secondary move to shed blocks and force his way into the backfield. High motor and impressive competitive toughness allows him to win at the point of attack and stay in the play.
As seen in the clip below against Tennessee, Allen takes on three blockers and is thrown to the ground on two separate occasions. He continues to get back on his feet and keep fighting until the play is over. There isn’t a coach in the NFL who won’t appreciate his energy and determination.
Solid closing speed and tackling ability to wrap up and bring down the ball carrier. When he isn’t able to get to the QB, Allen has the awareness to get his hands up into passing lanes and knock down passes. Against the run, he maintains gap integrity while displaying solid lateral agility to chase the ball carrier down the line of scrimmage.
For the most part, Jonathan Allen’s strengths can be summed up in one play. In the play, which occurred in this season’s Cotton Bowl against Michigan State, Allen beats the right guard at the snap. As the guard recovers, Allen uses his strong hands to counter with a secondary move outside which throws the lineman off balance. As he forces his way into the backfield, he splits the double team and finishes the play by sacking the QB.
Areas for Improvement
Only adequate athletic ability, as he fails to explode off the line at the snap and is unable to dip his inside shoulder or turn his hips to beat an offensive tackle around the edge.
The next video is an example of this. As he tries to rush the passer off the edge, the offensive tackle is able to help out on the inside rusher before he even turns his focus to Allen. Despite getting a bump on the interior rusher, the tackle is still able to move outside and square up Allen. Yes it’s a quick pass in the opposite direction, but the concerns are evident. The flexibility just isn’t there for him to be considered a threat as an outside pass rusher.
Rushing the passer, he relies so heavily on his combination of speed and power that his technique becomes sloppy at times. When a stunt is called, his marginal play speed and change of direction skills prevent him from getting to the QB. Against the run, he struggles to finish the play in open space.
In 2015, Allen played less than 40 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. This was more a product of the depth Alabama had on the defensive line rather than fatigue, but his stamina will be worth watching if he starts to see more playing time at the next level.
Overall, Jonathan Allen is a rotational six/seven technique (left defensive end lining up outside the right tackle in a 4-3 defense) who can move inside to a three technique (pass-rushing defensive tackle) on third downs. He wins with awareness, leverage and strong hands. Is not a speed rusher who will bend around the edge and get to the QB.
While Allen has been very productive over the past two seasons, his size and lack of flexibility really limits his scheme fits. His size screams 4-3 DE, however his lack of flexibility may force him inside. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive player in the NFL, just look at Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks. If Allen can find his niche in the right system, like Bennett has in Seattle, he’ll be worth a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. If not, he’ll struggle to see the field.