2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Josh Allen
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: In early October of 2017, WalterFootball.com was first to report that Allen was receiving early-round grades from NFL teams. Allen was a backup as a freshman before putting together a solid sophomore season in his debut as a starter. In 2016, he recorded 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. As a junior, Allen was one of the top edge defenders in the SEC, totaling seven sacks, 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and three passes batted on the year. Allen considered entering the 2018 NFL Draft, but ultimately decided to return for his senior year.
That ended up being a wise decision, as Allen has improved his standing from being a potential late first-round pick in 2018 to being a top-10 prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. Allen was one of the best players in college football in 2018, leading Kentucky to a 10-win season. On the year, he totaled 88 tackles with 21.5 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles and four passes batted. Prior to dominating Vanderbilt and South Carolina, the senior was phenomenal in leading Kentucky to upsets over Florida and Mississippi State. He came up some massive plays to lead a comeback over Missouri as well. Allen ate up the SEC offensive tackles, and provided a plethora of game-changing plays in crunch time to get the Wildcats wins they otherwise would have fallen short on. It was a season of sheer domination.
In the passing-driven NFL, edge defenders who can get after the quarterback are always in demand. With his speed, athleticism, size, strength and length, Allen could be an impactful edge defender with double-digit sack potential as a pro. He also is a good run defender who is capable of contributing in pass coverage. Allen can do it all and could be a defensive franchise player to build a pro defense around.
Allen is an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker with his ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage. In the pass rush, the first thing that stands out about him is that he is a dangerous edge rusher with natural feel and a nose for the quarterback. Allen is very fast off the edge with a quick first-step and serious speed to run the loop around the corner. He has a nice ability to bend and quick feet to cut around blockers. Offensive tackles can really struggle to get their hands on him and lock him up. In the pass rush, Allen has some speed-based set of pass-rushing moves. Allen uses a spin move, speed around the corner, some speed to power, and rushes to the inside. He also is versatile to put his hand in the ground, stand up over the tackle, or blitz up the middle. On top of getting to the quarterback, Allen gets a lot of pressures while creating sacks for his teammates.
In pass coverage, Allen showed serious improvement as a senior as his pass breakups were huge plays to lead Kentucky to a road upset over Florida. Allen shows a nice ability to function in space, quality instincts, and fluid athleticism to cover. Allen has the skill set to cover with good speed, athleticism, and length. In time, Allen could end up being an asset to help cover receiving tight ends and backs out of the backfield.
In the ground game Allen is a solid defender. He has good instincts, reads his keys well, and consistently is around the ball. Allen uses his speed to chase down backs and flows quickly to the ball. He is fast to the perimeter and is a good tackler in space. For the NFL, Allen could stand to get better at taking on blocks from offensive linemen but he was stronger and showed improvement in this regard as a senior. He can get covered up and pushed back on runs coming straight downhill at him.
Allen is a tailor made player for outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. If he is drafted to play in a 4-3, he still will be a good player. Allen could revolve from Sam (strong side) linebacker and defensive end. On top of being a complete player, Allen is known to be a high character individual who is a team leader and hard worker.
Player Comparison: Leonard Floyd. I've spoken with scouts who have compared Allen to Leonard Floyd with his ability to rush off the edge and drop into coverage. Floyd has turned into a really nice player for the Bears, and in the NFL I think Allen could be a better version of Floyd. Floyd is a freakier athlete, but Allen is more instinctive and a better football player.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, New York Jets, Oakland, New York Giants, Detroit, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Miami, Washington, Carolina
The 49ers need more pass rush as Solomon Thomas is trending towards bust status as a pass rusher. They traded for Dee Ford but could use an edge rusher across from him. San Francisco also needs help at linebacker after Reuben Foster was a bust of a first-round pick because of his off the field issues. Allen could give them a dangerous edge rusher to go next to DeForest Buckner, and would help improve their linebacking corps.
The Jets need an edge rusher and Allen would be an excellent pick for New York. Gang Green does not figure to have a receiver or offensive tackle that is as good prospect as Allen, so he could make sense the Jets. New York might target Allen in a trade down as well.
Oakland would be a good fit for Allen as a pass rusher and across from Arden Key. The Raiders also have to upgrade their linebackers so Allen could help them at a few spots.
The Giants also need an edge rusher for their defense. Allen would be a good value for New York outside of the top-five. If New York does not take a quarterback with the sixth-overall pick, Allen would make a lot of sense.
Even though they signed Trey Flowers, Detroit needs more edge rushing talent as well. They also need linebacker help. Allen could play linebacker and rush off the edge. With his versatility, he would be a nice scheme fit for the Lions.
Cincinnati could use more young talent at linebacker, but they probably would want a more traditional linebacker rather than one that is a pass rusher.
Green Bay could use more linebacker talent. In the Packers 3-4, Allen could play some inside linebacker and rush off the edge.
Miami could move on from Robert Quinn and Allen could be a replacement. Atlanta could use another edge rusher across from Takk McKinley as Vic Beasley is in the last year of his contract and has disappointed the past two seasons. Washington could consider Allen as a replacement for Preston Smith. Carolina could use another edge rusher as Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin are free agents next offseason.
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