Summary: At the start of the 2018 NFL Draft process, there was a lot of hype for Boston College defensive end Harold Landry. However, Landry went on to have a rough senior year and it was Zach Allen that was the most impressive player on the BC defensive line. During the fall of 2017, a national scout told me that Allen had first-round potential if he decided to enter the 2018 NFL Draft due to the excellent season he was putting together. In 2017, Allen totaled 100 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three passes broken up and an interception. That was coming off a solid sophomore campaign with 36 tackles with 10 for a loss, six sacks and four passes batted.
Allen drew increased blocking attention as a senior, yet his level of play stayed consistent. He totaled 61 tackles with seven sacks, seven passes batted, one forced fumble and 14.5 tackles for a loss in 2018.
There is a lot to like about Allen for the NFL. He is an instinctive defender who makes plays in both phases. With his size, strength, and physical style of play, Allen looks ready to compete at the next level.
In the pass rush, Allen is a physical defender. He has a powerful bull rush and consistently pushes offensive tackles into the pocket. Allen plays with good leverage to get underneath the pads of tackles and then get them on roller skates in their backpedal. Allen has heavy hands to shed blocks and break free when he gets upfield. With versatile size and some quickness, Allen has the ability to rush from the inside as well as come off the edge. Allen could use more pass-rushing moves for the NFL. With his size and strength, it would be nice to see him add a club or rip move.
Allen is a real asset in run defense, and his huge tackle total in 2017 was no accident. Constantly, he put his team in good down-and-distance situations from making tackles near the line of scrimmage. Allen is very good at taking on blockers, tossing them to the side, and taking down running backs before they can get to the second level. He is a very tough run defender. With his thick frame, Allen is strong to hold his ground at the point of attack. He anchors very well and is tough to move. Helped by his heavy hands, Allen is adept at shedding blocks quickly and then using his quickness to chase down backs. Allen is disciplined, intelligent, and shows good vision to get in position to make stops.
For the NFL, Allen would be a perfect fit as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3 system, Allen could be a base end on run downs who also can move inside in the sub package.
Player Comparison: Brett Keisel. Allen reminds me of some of the excellent five-techniques of the tough Steelers defenses the helped them win two Super Bowls in the 2000s. Like Allen, Keisel was a strong bully on the field who was a tough run defender and able to contribute in the pass rush. Keisel (6-5, 285) and Allen are almost identical in size as well. In the NFL, I think Allen could end up being a Pro Bowl five-technique like Keisel was for Pittsburgh.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Atlanta, New York Jets, Carolina, Tennessee, Green Bay, Houston, New England, Kansas City
Late in the first round and into the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Allen has a lot of potential landing spots. The Los Angeles Rams could consider Allen in the first round and have Ndamukong Suh is entering free agency.
Staying in California, the 49ers and Raiders both need more edge-rushing talent, and both Bay Area teams are picking high in the second and third rounds. They both run 4-3 schemes, and Allen could be a base end for either. Ditto for Detroit and Atlanta as teams with high second-round picks that could use help at defensive end and are based out of a 4-3.
A fit for Allen could be for the Jets' third-round pick. They need to get more edge talent and Allen could fit Gregg Williams.
With Julius Peppers retiring, Carolina has to get more defensive end talent across from Mario Addison. Allen could be a fit for the Panthers in the second round.
The Packers need young front seven talent and could use multiple early selections on front seven defenders. Allen could be a good scheme fit for Green Bay as a five-technique and take the place of Muhammed Wilkerson.
In the AFC South, Allen could interest the Texans with one of their second-round picks. Jadeveon Clowney is entering free agency, while Whitney Mercilus is showing signs of decline. J.J. Watt is also aging, so Allen could be a five-technique across from Watt immediately and possibly take over as the leader on the defensive line one day when Watt is done.
Both the Patriots and Chiefs have two second-round picks, so they could consider Allen with one of those picks. Both teams also could use young defensive line talent.