NAME: Josh Allen
POSITION: Edge Defender
JERSEY: No. 41
RECRUITMENT RATING: 2-star
WT: 258 lbs
Run Defense – Not an ideal candidate to regularly be tasked with setting the edge against offensive tackles and has noticeably better success vs tight ends. Eyes are often in the backfield, causing his pad level to rise and the lack of leverage is detrimental to his ability to maintain his fit. Has most of his success defending the run slashing gaps and filtering through contact. Offers outstanding range to close down distances and make plays outside the numbers.
Pass Rush – Blend of burst, length and flexibility leads to regular success attacking the outside edge track. Vertical push puts major stress on the offensive tackles ability to reach his set points and keep pace. Does well to alter his stride lengths and use his feet to most effectively rush. More counters, better speed to power conversion and developing an inside move would take his already outstanding ability to the next level.
Burst – Explosive out of his stance and is capable of winning with pure speed off the edge. Rapidly accelerates in space and offers terrific range. Illustrates a blazing second gear when closing in on the quarterback. Occasionally false steps out of his stance which if cleaned up, will make him even more consistently effective.
Effort – Plays with a motor that consistently runs hot. Battles through contact and is willing to chase from distance. Developing more nuance with his counters will make accentuate his hot motor. Operates with urgency and makes his share of plays on account of hustle and will.
Hand Technique – Showcases the ability to clear his pads and soften the outside rush angle. Can stand to be more assertive and violent with his hands. Still room for growth in terms of timing and placement with his hand combating.
Flexibility – Loose in his hips and ankles which enable him to bend around the corner. Carries impressive speed through tight turns. Has fluid change of direction skills and is capable of springing outside to cut off running backs and quarterbacks rolling outside the pocket. Moves laterally with ease and is fluid in his coverage drops. Has exceptional range in coverage and consistently reaches his landmarks in zone coverage on account of his ability to fluidly drop and sink.
Processing – Leaves some meat on the bone because he hasn’t fully developed his vision to read the blockers set and take advantage. Range in coverage drops is wonderful but will sometimes miss a route to his zone because he is so focused on reaching his landmarks. Does well to remain square as a backside run defender.
Play Strength – Good but not great. Needs to get strong in the lower half to be a more consistent edge-setter against offensive tackles. Developing the ability to convert speed to power with more consistency would improve his pass rushing attack.
Versatility – Has been tasked with numerous responsibilities and performs admirably. Capable of putting his hand in the dirt or as a stand up defender. Effective dropping into coverage and has outstanding pass rush ability.
BEST TRAIT – Burst/Bend
WORST TRAIT – Counters
RED FLAGS – None
Josh Allen’s burst, bend and length provides an exciting foundation to work from in becoming a high-impact pass rusher in the NFL. That said, there is still room to grow in terms developing counters, improving his vision and adding play strength that indicates an extremely high ceiling as he evolves as a player. Allen has already proven his ability to function with his hand in the dirt, as a stand up edge and dropping into coverage making him a scheme-versatile defender that would thrive in a defensive front that is multiple. Allen has the tools needed contribute right away in the NFL with the makings of a dynamic playmaker at his position by year three.
First Step Quickness – Natural explosiveness is evident at release of the snap. Wins with a lot of speed reps courtesy of acceleration through the arc. Getting out of stance can be further enhanced by eliminating an intermittent false step. Burst is present in linear and lateral situations.
Hand Technique/Length – Placement in the run game is effective and allows for uprooting defenders with powerful upper body and angular attacks of the opponent’s leverage. Could afford to produce a bit more separation after landing a blow to ensure a clean avenue to scrape.
Pass Rush Counters – Speed rush, forearm sweep, shallow rip are most predominantly used counters. Wins effectively with speed off the edge. Can still stand to improve the timing of his hand counter and add more violence to fully clear the hands. Will win reps in the NFL based off his speed/flexibility.
Flexibility – Bendy. Fluid hips are showcased turning the corner and when asked with flipping to turn and run in pass coverage. Lower body flexibility is top tier and allows for very sharp corners to turn and eliminate leverage by blockers trying to wall off a rush.
Run Defending – Most successful in a gap penetration role, is quick to step down and follow a pull, leading him to the mesh-point. Has the needed anchor to squat and set the edge, showing effective hand usage to pin down a block and locate the ball.
Competitive Toughness – Clear leader of his defense and offers the effort to back it up. Has ample functional strength and plays with good leverage at the point of attack to squat and hold his ground against charging blockers up the field.
Tackling – Intelligent player who looks to attack the football when closing in on the quarterback. Has superb mirroring skills in head up situations, can slide his feet and keep his pads framed on the ball carrier. Explosive finishing potential if sustaining forward momentum to the ball.
Lateral Mobility – Rangy player. Especially impressive in situations stacked on the second level and tasked with scraping along the LOS to fill. Effective pursuit player and shows suddenness to jump down into a gap as play develops. Can cut across the face of over-setting OTs as a rusher.
Stand Up Ability – Has been used in all phases of the game. Comfortable turning and running with receivers down the field and successfully gets eyes back to locate the football. Doesn’t have a great feel for routes peeling around him in peripherals. Legit ability to play in space.
Football IQ – Versatility is through the roof, a testament to responsibilities he’s been trusted with and the mental processing required to work through reads successfully. Trusts his mobility to work him through tight creases and has taken a big step forward in final season this year.
BEST TRAIT – Flexibility
WORST TRAIT – Pass Rush Counters
BEST FILM – Florida (2018)
WORST FILM – Texas A&M (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Josh Allen has made tremendous strides as a football player, transitioning from a promising athlete to an impressive player in all phases of his position. Allen’s speed/flexibility will translate to the NFL, although adding some more physical components (long arm, speed to power) to his pass rush repertoire will take him to his ceiling as a player. Allen projects best to a flexible defensive scheme, where his athleticism can shine on the edge or off the ball.
Burst – Good first step out of a 2-point stance, covers ground quickly up the arc with long strides. Don’t know if his 40 will be anything special, but I think his first ten will be just fine. Slight recoil in his stance which can delay his first step by a split-second. Against Mississippi State worked from a 3-point stance on a handful of snaps and his get-off was jaw-dropping every play. May be an indication that his explosiveness is magnified with his hand in the dirt, something he didn’t do often at Kentucky.
Bend – The progress he has made getting his hips and feet pointed to the pocket is truly amazing. Couldn’t corner at all in 2017, returned to school, added weight and still showed outstanding flexibility. Drops his shoulder fluidly to reduce surface area and win at the top of the arc. Bendy in the hips and can turn fairly tight corners to the pocket.
Rush Moves – Among the biggest areas of improvement for him. Used his hands much better in 2018 than he did a year ago. Two-handed swats to win the edge became a go-to move. Does a good job of reducing his surface area while cornering, using his inside arm to keep his frame relatively clean around the edge. Flashed push-pull throughout the year that gave him several 1v1 wins. Long arm and cross chop could be deadly moves for him if he eventually adds them. Doesn’t convert speed-to-power very often, but I wouldn’t either with his other traits.
Counters – Will run relentlessly at the edge instead of taking an inside path to the quarterback. Has to do a better job at converting speed-to-counter and winning back inside against oversets. Florida’s Jawaan Taylor overset on him all day, and Allen was too slow to work counter moves against him. Has all the tools with his burst and bend to force tackles deep in their set points and exploit the inside track to the quarterback.
Run Defense – Has improved a lot at stacking-and-shedding, but will still get engulfed at times when he is caught unprepared. Most of the time fires hands to chest and gains early control of the rep, showing the strength to push-pull blockers off his frame. Can do a better job keeping his outside shoulder clean when setting the edge. Not the type of force defender that will re-set the line of scrimmage every play, but strong enough to get the job done 1v1 and fully capable in space as well. Does need to do a better job not getting too deep and maintaining proper depth to the line of scrimmage.
Lateral Mobility – Maybe a sluggish laterally, but still more than athletic enough to play in space and not be a liability in any way. Change of direction does seem surprisingly un-explosive for a guy with his athletic gifts, although overall movement skills remain smooth and fully capable.
Mental Processing/Vision – Asked to play from a ton of different alignments and execute a bevy of assignments for Kentucky, did the vase majority at a high level. Definitely still developing as a mental processor from snap-to-whistle, was a beat slow to find the ball and attack his gap when playing off the ball, which shouldn’t be super concerning for the NFL considering he’ll be on the edge. Needs to process quicker and step down when unblocked on the edge.
Tackling/Finishing – Most concerning is when Allen arrives at the ball carrier and tosses a shoulder at him rather than wrap up, something I’ve seen a few times. Most of the time his form is good, and as a pass rusher he targets the football brilliantly. Consistently finds a way to finish even by getting one arm free and his hips around to swipe the quarterback in his release. Not a big hitter in the run game, but gets runners on the ground.
Competitive Toughness – He plays a ton of snaps and he plays most of them very hard, but every so often he’ll take one off. His style of play is not overly physical, nor is physicality a concern. As he’s gotten stronger, his desire to grind out tough reps in the trenches has grown as well.
Athleticism/Size – Size, length, build and athleticism all appear to be top-notch. Should be a winner at the Combine, where he really needs to kill 3-cone, 10-yard split and the jumps to ensure the transition of his style of play to the NFL.
BEST TRAIT – Burst/Bend
WORST TRAIT – Counters
RED FLAGS – None
In 51 career games as a Wildcat, Allen never failed to suit up, beginning his career as a special teams demon and ending it as the face of the program’s impressive rise. Many believed Allen would declare last year as a probably day two pick, but instead he returned to school, added weight and completely transformed his game.
18.5 tackles-for-loss, 14 sacks and five forced fumbles later, Allen is widely considered a first round lock and even a possible top ten pick. His game is certainly not all the way there yet, as his hands, variety of rush moves, counters and mental processing are all in need of further development. Allen’s natural traits can’t be taught however, and his progress as a pass rusher over the past season is stunning. He has the look of an annual double-digit sack artist if he maintains his current trajectory at the NFL level.