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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Josh Allen OLB Kentucky

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A tall rangy OLB with a quick first step

Central Michigan v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Josh Allen 6’ 4 7/8” 262 lbs OLB/EDGE Kentucky #41

Josh Allen is a New Jersey native who had 44 TFL and 23 sacks as a HS senior. He has great length and a lean physique which is limber but he doesn’t possess great lean, that 45 degree bend that a player like Von Miller has. I believe he has the athletic ability to do so he just doesn’t possess that skill right now. The job of his NFL coach will be to school him in that exact trait to increase his pass rush abilities.

Allen has a quick first step, it’s not elite but still quick. He is tall which makes him a big target and it’s more difficult for him to dip under the shoulders of tackles. He makes up for that in some ways by having superior upper body strength; he looks thin in the upper body which is deceptive to tackles trying to block him. His up and under rip is impressive and he will power his way by unsuspecting tackles.

Having watched a boatload of film on him I believe Allen to be an elite prospect with much growth left in his career. He has some things he will need to correct with a lot more to learn but his upside is tremendous.

Josh Allen was not an edge rusher in college. He played an OLB position at Kentucky. They did move him around some but basically he was an OLB. He had 17 sacks this year and rushed the passer a maximum of 30 to 35% of his snaps. He was in coverage or holding the edge a lot; for some strange reason they didn’t have him rush the passer more. He was fairly good in coverage but he was in zone coverage a lot guarding grass. Allen drew countless holding penalties and some holds that were not called or he would have had even more sacks.

One huge thing about Allen is he did all of this while having a serious tell. You know when you play poker and some guy starts whistling every time he gets a good hand; i.e. a tell. Allen will put his outside foot on the line every time he is going to speed rush to the outside. If he has his inside foot on the line of scrimmage he will either drop into coverage, set the edge or rush the passer using an inside move every time. The only exception to this is if he is in a wide “9” set (over farther than the TE) he will use his inside foot to speed rush outside, If his feet are not on the line of scrimmage he is not rushing and will drop into coverage or hold the edge. He needs to change that up.

Allen was fun to watch (great players always are) so as Warner Wolf would say “let’s go to the videotape.”

Here he is up near the line with neither foot on the LOS (line of scrimmage). You know he is not rushing.

He is setting the edge and does a nice job of it. That is a 6’ 6” 260 lbs TE he is going against and looks to be handling him with ease. Allen looks weak but he put up 28 reps at the combine with long arms which is very impressive.

Here Allen is in a wide 9 set up with a speed rush to the outside. The tackle has too slow a kick slide and Allen gets to his outside shoulder very quickly.

The tackle has no choice but to hold him and Allen draws one of many holding penalties on the year. Earlier in this game there was a blatant hold that went uncalled. Also he was credited with just one sack for the game when he clearly had two unassisted sacks. I guess they called the other sack a QB run and gave him a TFL.

A little later in the same game you can see that Mississippi State has pulled #78 from the game and put in a smaller quicker tackle. It makes no difference as Allen goes right around him (outside foot up) with an outside rush.

Allen has speed and tries to one hand tackle the QB but he steps up slightly and avoids the sack. Allen will have to learn to use two hands in the NFL as QBs like Cam Newton and Dak Prescott are actually bigger than he is.

The very next play Allen switches back to a wide 9 rush and #55 is no match for Allen’s speed as he blows by him and this time makes no mistake about the outcome. You can see the nice chop at the ball as Allen makes the tackle. Allen was tied for 2nd in the nation with 5 forced fumbles in 2018.

Teams did some wild things to keep Allen from wrecking their game. Here South Carolina is using a truncated line by moving their right tackle and WR out way wide. Allen is the OLB and has to stay on the outside shoulder of the tackle to maintain leverage against the formation.

The formation was unsuccessful as South Carolina fell way behind and went back to a more conventional alignment. You can see why they tried the wild alignment because as soon as they went conventional Allen exploded with 3 sacks and 4 TFL in the game.

Here you can see the inside foot on the line, Allen gives a little false step to the outside which makes the tackle set way too far outside. As the tackle tries to reset he becomes off balance and nearly falls on his face.

I have no idea what the back is doing as he lollygags to the left and not far enough outside for a dump off pass. He probably should have checked inside for a free runner and he would have found one if he just looked.

This next GIF I show for two reasons. First is the unbelievable way that Josh Allen was used. You see it is 3rd and 7 on the 29 yard line. One would think that you A) want to prevent a 1st down and B) a sack may take them out of field goal range. Why in the world would you have the nation’s best pass rusher guarding the flat where no one is? It makes no sense but Allen does a great job of covering sod. This is not an isolated case, it happened a lot, Allen not rushing on 3rd and long is inexplicable.

Second that is Lonnie Johnson in coverage getting burned again. I heard some talk of him moving in the 1st round discussion which is insane. The guy is a short area, press cover 3 corner who can’t cover one on one. That is C. J. Bolar a skinny freshman who beat him for a long TD, one of his two he had all year. He even falls on his face.

If you want to see coverage Josh Allen can cover better than Lonnie Johnson. Here are two clips that show the versatility of Allen, both are fantastic. First here he is in the South Carolina game getting one of his 3 sacks on the day; oh yea it was a strip sack.

Then he is in coverage against Jace Sternberger in his hip pocket the entire way and making a play on the ball 20 yards downfield. There are not too many players EVER in college or pro football with the ability to make both those plays with that degree of effectiveness.

Again here you see Allen not up on the line so you know he is not rushing. It is 3rd and 3 which makes it foolish not to have him rush but he is in matchup zone coverage.

And he makes the play anyway. You can see it better from another angle as Allen reads the QBs eyes and closes on the throw.

From the QBs vantage point, the play is not 5 yards in front of him but the QB thinks he can get the throw in. But Allen with those long arms comes from behind to knock the pass down.

Here is Allen again with his outside foot up so you know the speed rush is coming. He is able to get to the tackle’s chest and set him up for an under rip move. Allen is strong and about to put a lick on the QB so the tackle has to just grab him.

This is Allen’s bread and butter move. He has some others that are still a work in progress. I like his attempts at a “pole” move when he sticks that long arm against the left shoulder pad of the tackle and just lifts him back, getting him off balance; he hasn’t perfected that yet.

This is against Penn State in the bowl game. Penn State had a very good line this year and Allen in this game only had 4 regular tackles, 3 TFL and 3 sacks. You can see here his inside foot is on the line so you know it’s an inside rush.

He uses a line stunt which I rarely saw from Kentucky and something Allen should really excel at with his athleticism. The win gave Kentucky football it’s first 10 win season since 1977.

I came into this article with eyes wide open and no preconceived notions about Josh Allen. I wanted to write a fair and unbiased report and I believe I accomplished that. Allen was impressive in all the tape I watched, he hustled, was a team player in every way even when he was being grossly misused.

Some things I would like to see Allen do better:

  1. Become much nastier, you can tell players respected his talent but no one feared him.
  2. Work on his pass rush moves, get more refined and use more variation.
  3. Work on his inside rush moves, which in turn will help the outside rush moves.
  4. Work on hand counters, you will need them in the NFL. Hand usage was good not great and his punch needs much more power.
  5. Get with a yoga or ballet instructor and get some bend.

Allen is a versatile player with many skills but his ability to rush the passer should be his primary job in the NFL. With less on his plate in a game scheme he can focus more on being a new version of Von Miller. He is without a doubt a top 3 pick in this draft and I am sure we have not seen the best of Josh Allen yet.

What do you think?