NAME: Zach Allen
SCHOOL: Boston College
JERSEY: No. 2
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 285 lbs
Run Defense – Physical run defender that sets a firm edge. Not easily turned out of his gap and is aggressive with his hands to dictate reps. Anchor is fairly stout but he isn’t immune to giving ground against drive blocks, especially on the inside. Locates the football extremely well and finds himself routinely around the football.
Pass Rush – Wins with exceptional hustle, aggressive hand usage and play strength. Illustrates a fair amount of pass rush variety but counters are still developing. Does well to gain depth with initial three steps but isn’t explosive enough to truly stress offensive tackles. Can stand to do more with his feet to set up his pass rush moves. Vision and attacking weaknesses in set points of his man is modest.
Burst – Fairly fluid out of his stance and gains depth with initial steps. Lacks dynamic burst to consistently win around the outside edge track. Plays under control. Has enough short area quickness to be an effective gap shooter against the run and pass.
Effort – Motor always runs hot. Aggressive and urgent player in pursuit of the football and finishes plays routinely on account of hustle. Not content staying blocked and works hard to disengage. Fires off the ball with intent.
Hand Technique – Does well to play aggressively and violently with his hands. Is intentional about using his hand combating skills to keep his pads clear and close on the football. Can string together moves with good timing.
Flexibility – Tightly wound hips make it difficult for him to corner tight angles and requires them to be softened. Lateral mobility and agility is lacking. Segmented with change of direction and transitions. Doesn’t illustrate much in terms of twitch in the upper or lower half.
Processing – Has an obvious understanding of determining where the ball is going based on how he’s attempted to be blocked. Finds the football and finds his way. Works off contact in pursuit and finishes with consistency. Does well to get his hands up to disrupt throwing lanes on passing downs that he cannot generate pressure on.
Play Strength – Holds his own at the point of attack but has some issues anchoring against drive blocks when defending interior gaps. Ability to convert speed to power is modest. Showcases good contact power and balance as a tackler and edge setter.
Versatility – Has the upside to play in multiple spots in an even front although his pass rushing skill set as an outside rusher is somewhat limited and his ability to defend the run on the interior is inconsistent. Not a candidate for two-gapping duties.
BEST TRAIT – Effort
WORST TRAIT – Flexibility
RED FLAGS – None
Allen has been a highly productive for the BC Eagles over the last three seasons and is capable of factoring into an NFL defensive line rotation right away. A modest athlete with tight hips, projecting Allen to win around the corner consistently against NFL offensive tackles is hard to envision. While he does offer upside rushing interior gaps, there are limitations to him defending the run on the inside. Allen found success in college lining up in multiple spots along the defensive front and doing so in the NFL will help accentuate his playmaking ability given his limitations. By year three, Allen has the upside to start in an even front and be a productive player that is moved around based on situations.
Burst/Arc Speed – Really impressive first step. Consistently the first defender off the ball and threatens tackles out of their stance with an efficient and explosive early burst. No wasted steps and won’t dance around out of his stance. Arc speed is limited, more fleet of foot tackles can recover and lock down the edge against him.
Bend/Flexibility – Extremely limited. Even when his initial angle is favorable, just doesn’t have any hip flexibility to bend the edge to the pocket. Struggles to drop his pad level to corner, often causing him to get hung up on contact at the apex of the arc. Ankle flexibility is slightly better, but this area is his biggest concern with playing on the edge in the NFL.
Rush Moves – Tons of ’em. Allen’s repertoire is deep and it needs to be due to his athletic limitations. If you don’t know what you’re doing technically as an offensive tackle, he will take you apart. Quick and sudden with his hands, utilizing swims, push-pulls, snatches, long arms, chops and rips to work his way to the quarterback. Transitions easily from one more to another and almost always has a plan of attack.
Counters – Would like to see him get to his counters a little quicker at times, but for the most part Allen recognizes interior rush lanes and will exploit them. Doesn’t get too deep behind the pocket, works back to the depth of the quarterback and does offer a spin move, although it’s a little slow. At his best when he sets up his counters as go-to moves and not true counters, jab-stepping outside to come back inside of a tackle.
Run Defense – Excellent point-of-attack run defender on the edge, gets his hands fitted inside and fires out with a strong punch. Lacks length and can be a little slow to disengage at times as a result. For a defender who projects inside at his current size, somewhat concerning that he’s consistently pushed around by double teams when aligned as an inside technique. Very sharp and aware of what to do in unblocked situations.
Mental Processing/Vision – Excellent processing of opposing pass sets and ability to take advantage of a tackle’s weaknesses at the college level. Identifies oversets and works inside his opponent to exploit quick paths to the quarterback. Consistently finds the football and attempts to get in pursuit.
Lateral Mobility – Range as a pursuit player is really limited. Easy player to option off of because of lack of lateral mobility. Super stiff and doesn’t change directions quickly. Playing him in space is an obvious no-go, athleticism is not a strong suit.
Tackling/Finishing – Doesn’t have great length, so a little limited in terms of finishing outside his frame. Ridiculously strong and capable of bringing anyone down 1v1. Not a big hitter, but against Temple he did sack a quarterback with one arm while being held. Definitely limited in terms of his ability to finish in space against more elusive ball carriers.
Competitive Toughness – Tough, physical player with a non-stop motor. All-business demeanor on-the-field. Did run completely out of gas against Wake Forest late and was sucking wind most of the fourth quarter (may have been banged up too).
Athleticism/Size – Very limited athlete, especially for an edge defender, but also much bigger than the average edge. Tight in the hips and lacks the speed and lateral quickness to be considered above average in this area. Good overall thickness and power throughout his frame, but body may need re-made in NFL. Carries some extra weight around his gut.
BEST TRAIT – Rush Moves
WORST TRAIT – Bend/Flexibility
RED FLAGS – None
Zach Allen is a very good college football player whose athletic limitations could be his undoing in the NFL. He dominated certain matchups in college with a quick first step, nuanced hand usage and a non-stop motor, but in the NFL his position and role remain uncertain.
At 280+ pounds, Allen has the size to project inside, but played there very sparingly for Boston College and wasn’t particularly impactful when he did. He was almost always aligned on the edge, but lacks the bend and flexibility, as well as the arc speed, to really threaten tackles on their outside hip. Right now he looks like a player that will have to become even more versatile in his alignments to succeed at the next level, which makes the inside reps he will undoubtedly get at the Senior Bowl even more important.
First Step Quickness –Surprisingly potent release at the snap, when able to roll weight onto down hand shows good coil and burst. Short area quickness translates into flat footed reps as well, for a player of his stature he’s in possession of very good short area mobility and quickness.
Hand Technique/Length –Easily his best quality. Hands transition smoothly from one counter to another, shows a lot of awareness to attack the hands of blockers and disengage. Rips through contact to cross face. Length is only modest, however, so hand efficiency is paramount to success defeating blocks.
Pass Rush Counters –Is not content to dance with blockers, hands are violent and assertive to roll tackles back onto their heels. Willing to put his facemask into the numbers and collapse the tackle, shows good timing in contact on bull rushes. Flexible in rush plan to take favorable angles and attack OTs.
Flexibility –Does not showcase a lot of tilt through his frame. Ability to work hips across the face of pass sets is predicated on hands and power to bubble back the tackle and create softer angles for himself. Tight in lateral situations and lacks any notable ankle flexion.
Run Defending –Powerful lower half is effective in stonewalling defenders in one on one situations. Anchors his POA reps with good hip drop and hand usage is effective in slipping tackles and sliding along the front to pursue the football.
Competitive Toughness –Not sure there’s a foundation to play with consistency on the inside, which some teams will investigate. Relentless motor and is effective in stacking up double teams with TEs to hold his leverage. Powerful set of hands and thick lower half enable consistent reset of the LOS.
Tackling –Only pedestrian range in space and can get turned around on reps to the outside by a head fake back inside. When able to close in linear situations will bring the boom and offers terrific finishing power thanks to mass and short area acceleration skills.
Lateral Mobility –Doesn’t showcase a lot of mobility in his hips to flip open and get width when isolated in space. When able to slide laterally and stay square to the LOS to tuck inside of tackles, offers effective mobility and much more effective change of direction.
Stand Up Ability –Only sparing reps from a two point stance in 2018 as a stand-up rusher. Is a down defender and ideally spends a fair percentage of reps playing from the B-gap where his anchor can shine most effectively. Will not draw assignments in coverage.
Football IQ –Love how active his hands are, even in quick game pass rush. Gets his hands on a lot of footballs and disrupts plays with his frame when ball is out quick. Technically refined defender with his hands, which should allow him to be an effective starter. Quick mental processor.
PROSPECT COMPARISON – Dean Lowry
BEST TRAIT – Hand Technique
WORST TRAIT – Stand Up Ability
BEST FILM – Temple (2018)
WORST FILM – Wake Forest (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Zach Allen is a powerhouse defense end who does well to stack up blockers and hold his ground at the line of scrimmage. Allen’s threat of working around the edge track in the NFL is limited but he should be able to collapse soft setting tackles and provide a B-gap presence as a pass rusher. Allen projects best as a base 4-3 defensive end or a B-gap defender in an odd front: he possesses the length needed for some 2-gap reps as well.