Josh Allen OLB is a quick pass-rusher from Kentucky, that has good length and is widely considered the best linebacker in this draft. His draft stock has been exploding recently and he is now looked at as a top 3 pick.
The reason why he will be picked this high is because of his unique combination of speed and size. He is 6’5” and has a quick first step that can got him past most of the lineman he faced last year. This led him to be the best pass rusher in the stacked SEC.
His athleticism also makes him extremely versatile. He can play as a pass rusher off the edge, or he can go back in coverage. Pairing those traits will make him a good player at the next level.
However, there are questions about how his pass rushing moves will translate to the next level.
Explosive first step – His length paired with his quickness helps him explode on the first step and get past the majority of tackles that he faced in college.
Large Frame – Standing at 6’5” Allen has the size that many teams look for in a pass rusher. With his size he can get into the quart backs face and force arrant passes or stick a hand up to knock down the pass at the line of scrimmage.
Man Coverage– What makes Allen stand out from the usual pass rushing outside linebacker is that he can go cover a tight end one on one. This will help him stay on the field for all three downs at the next level.
Predictability– While watching his film, it looked like he mainly relied on one move on the outside to get past the lineman. That may work early in the NFL but when they figure it out, he will need to learn something new to be able to continue rushing the passer effectively.
Zone coverage– I mentioned his man coverage ability in his strengths, but his zone coverage is not as good. He showed weakness in this area even though his athleticism made up for some of his mistakes in coverage. If he gets a good coach that can develop this ability then he will be fine.
Rush defense– He struggled at times containing the running back on the edge and especially trying to cover the option. This won’t be much concern for the team that drafts him because at the end of the day, they will draft him to rush the passer.
Football IQ- (7/10) – His struggles in zone coverage and covering the option aren’t too concerning but they are still there, and they might impact his draft stock.
Athleticism (10/10) – There is no ignoring his speed around the edge, it’s what makes him so dangerous. His athleticism also plays a big role in his coverage abilities.
Explosiveness (9/10) – He can fire off the ball and his first step can get around almost any college offensive lineman. The only question is how will his first step be when facing an NFL lineman.
Coverage (8/10) – If this was just man coverage then it would be an easy ten out of ten, however I have to account for his zone coverage. He is still above average in coverage, but he does need to work on his zone coverage skills.
Strength (7/10) – He mainly relied on his speed to get past lineman and when he had to take them head on, he didn’t have as much success. In an NFL training program this will become less of an issue, but right now his strength is holding back his rush defense.
Dee Ford- Both Allen and Ford have very good athleticism and they were both somewhat raw coming out of college. They are both tested SEC players and I believe Allen will have similar success at the next level.
Allen is a very good prospect that will likely be picked in the top five. However, in my eyes he is more raw than some people believe. His pass rush skills looked great in Kentucky but it’s unknown how they will be looking this time next year. I do still believe that there is a place for him on an NFL roster.