The Washington Redskins selected DE Jonathan Allen from the University of Alabama with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
My view is that this is a steal. Allen would have been a first round pick after his junior season, but he went back for his senior year and was a dominant player all season. Allen was the easy and obvious choice here and I am pleased the Redskins did not get cute or overthink this pick. Allen fell for reasons we don’t know yet, but he has been hugely productive in college and projects as a first-rate defensive lineman in the NFL. In other words, he’s exactly what the Skins desperately needs.
He won the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski awards as the nation’s top defender on the nation’s top defense in 2016 (69 tackles, 16 TFL, led team with 10.5 sacks). He repeated as first-team All-SEC following an excellent junior year where he finished second in the SEC with 12 sacks (14.5 TFL, 4 PBU).
Allen is a very versatile lineman who can line up in multiple spots along the line of scrimmage. He plays with superior leverage, has great hands and is one of the best interior pass-rushers in the entire draft class.
Allen can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and will probably line up next to OLB Ryan Kerrigan on passing downs, in order to put more pressure on offensive lines.
Taken to school by Alabama coaching staff and is technically proficient in all phases. Plays outside and inside. Quick off the ball. Superior hand-grappler who can control the wrists and forearms of his opponents with accurate hand placement over wild chops and slaps. Varied approach as a pass rusher. Excellent athletic ability and possesses flexible hips. Able to coordinate hands, feet, and hips to climb over the edge against tackles. Has play strength and quickness to rip through the weak inside post of a guard. Can club with either hand to soften the edge of a blocker. Has posted consistent quarterback pressure and sack numbers despite playing in less than half of the defensive snaps. Alert against the run. Quick to diagnose the mesh point against zone reads and gives chase to the ball. Strong on the edge. Has speed down the line to close down back-side cuts. Feet never seem to stop. Vocal leader willing to give strong corrections to teammates in practice. Came to Alabama as an outside linebacker and runs like it when he’s in the open field.
Lacking the height teams look for from defensive ends. Not very long and could struggle to win the race for hand positioning against long NFL tackles. Found himself engulfed by linemen with mass from time to time. A move inside could require more bulk on his bones. Not built to take on double-team blocks for a living. Doesn’t possess lateral quickness and twitch to contain speedy running backs from getting the corner when he’s at defensive end. Teams utilizing one-gap scheme could question his lack of tackles on other side of the line. Might have benefitted by playing along so much NFL talent up front.
SOURCES TELL US
“He’s a really talented pass rusher but he’s always been surrounded by enough talent that it’s been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him. He’s skilled and very fundamentally sound but I just worry about his size and how he holds up to NFL running games.” — NFC director of player personnel
Outstanding leader and athlete with an ability to rush the passer from outside or inside. Has produced against the run and pass thanks to his strength, agility, elite hand usage, and plus footwork. He might not be the cleanest fit inside as a full-time tackle for some teams, but his talent should trump any size concerns. Allen is a likely first-round selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road.