Josh Allen, OLB
School: Kentucky | Conference: SEC
Experience: Senior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-5 / 252 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Top-10
NFL Comparison: Leonard Floyd
Additionally, here are some advanced stats, courtesy of Pro Football Focus:
No FBS edge defender finished the season with a better pass-rush productivity than Kentucky's Josh Allen. pic.twitter.com/S3TJmsF57X— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 31, 2018
PFF’s end of regular season stats - “The highest-graded edge defender in the country, Allen got home with a pressure on 23.4% of his pass-rush snaps this season. Highlighted by his national-best 93.5 pass-rush grade, Allen brought in 51 total pressures that included 14 sacks, nine QB hits and an additional 28 hurries. He dropped back in coverage on 141 snaps and allowed just 130 yards on 19 targets without allowing a touchdown, and made 51 total defensive stops with missed just four tackles out of 69 attempts.”
A lightly recruited, two-start HS prospect, who chose Kentucky over Buffalo and Monmouth University, Allen finished his career as the University of Kentucky’s record holder with 31.5 (career) sacks and 17 (single-season) sacks.
As a senior, Allen was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, while also taking home the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Award, and the Chuck Bednarik Award.
There was some question as to if Josh Allen would even play in the Citrus Bowl against Penn State, but not only did he play, he closed out his Wildcats’ career with an MVP performance, recording three sacks and a blocked field goal attempt. Here are just some of his highlights from the Citrus Bowl.
Four of his tackles in the @CitrusBowl featured three QB sacks for -16 yards, extending his school records for most sacks in a season (17) and career (31.5).@JoshAllen41_ = #TopPlays #WeAreUK #GetUp pic.twitter.com/Xi0IQ4ZADT— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) January 11, 2019
Allen struggled with stuttering and school work until formally diagnosed with ADHD in college.
Three of his sisters played basketball in college, including Myisha Hines-Allen, who currently is a rookie forward for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
For more on his back-story, read NFL.com’s How Kentucky’s Josh Allen became NFL draft’s fastest-rising prospect.
Athletic Traits (Pre-Combine)
A first team all-state WR in high school, Allen arrived much more lanky than his listed weight. Listed at 230 pounds as a junior, he apparently is now carries 252 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. He appears to have long arms, and will likely “check all the boxes” with his workouts at the NFL Combine, but it will be interesting to see if he really measures as an elite athlete for the position. Athletically speaking, I don’t think he is quite at the level of former Kentucky OLB/DE Bud Dupree. I see similarities to Anthony Barr, who played on the edge at UCLA before transitioning to more of a traditional LB in the NFL.
Against South Carolina, Allen had three sacks, four TFL’s and numerous other pressures. The first sack was on a backside pursuit, and he almost got a safety. On the second, he was unblocked stunting inside. For the third, he third he beat the left tackle with speed and got the strip sack with one minute left in the game.
Georgia had success running right at his side of the line (Georgia ended the night with 331 yards rushing).
UK Josh Allen did NOT look good vs UGA... Thought LT Andrew Thomas kicked his ass. Routinely pawed off the LOS vs TEs in run game... Didn't see elite play strength or athleticism. Stiffness in transitioning around edge. Clunky pass rush plans. Doesn't time up hand usage well...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 30, 2019
Even that 2017 game... Couldn’t budge Wynn at LT and routinely pushed off LOS by TEs! Watch where Allen starts on this play and where he ends up - I have 15-20 plays from UGA TEs over last two games that paw him back pic.twitter.com/ujcn15GUoL— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 30, 2019
Allen had his way with Florida’s Martez Ivey, but against Jawaan Taylor, not so much.
Consecutive snaps where Taylor wins against Allen. Just controls him with his hands on the first rep pic.twitter.com/tlJ5s8aG3x— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) January 28, 2019
Here are a pair of film sessions. The first by PFF:
The second, by Voch Lombardi:
- Productive pass rusher, who improved each season.
- Likes to go for strip sack, and finished with an NCAA best five forced fumbles.
- Competent in coverage with the lateral agility required of an modern NFL LB.
- Prototypical height/weight/length for the position.
- Can beat opponents with speed rush, and with hand usage.
- At times, Allen doesn’t play to his size, and still appears to be too finesse.
- Wasn’t always able to get the QB to the ground (especially Nick Fitzgerald).
- Can get washed out against the run, including by Tight Ends (Georgia, Vanderbilt).
- Occasionally plays too tall, and needs to get lower when bending the edge.
- Needs to more quickly identify and disengage from blocks.
- Doesn’t always have a counter, if initial move fails (stonewalled by Gators RT Jawaan Taylor).
- He has the athleticism, but will he be able to hang with backs and tight ends that have nuance to their routes?
What Others Are Saying
Kentucky linebacker’s coach, Brad White - “From a run-game standpoint, he’s gotten really strong with his hands. He’d always been a good pass rusher and could always win with speed. Now he can win with the added weight and strength. He didn’t necessarily do that in the past. Now he can control tight ends and tackles. He can control his primary gap, tear off the blocker, then go make a play in another gap.”
Senior Bowl executive director, Jim Nagy called Allen one of the most improved players in the nation. ”The knock on him was that he played with too much finesse. He would jump around blocks and played like a bulk-deficient player,” Nagy said. “Now he’s a different guy.”
Draft Analyst, Tony Pauline wrote “Allen has the measurables and computer numbers NFL teams desire in a front-seven player and has shown a great deal of development in his game. He’s a forceful linebacker with the ability to get pressure up the field and rush the quarterback. But Allen is much more than a one-dimensional defender. He’s also a solid run defender who can make plays at the line of scrimmage or in pursuit, and his ball skills on passing downs are improving.”
This week, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had the Cardinals taking Josh Allen number one overall. ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranked Allen as his No. 2 player overall in his most recent mock draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has compared Allen to Arizona Cardinals DE Chandler Jones.
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
The Redskins have some decisions to make at outside linebacker. Preston Smith is a free agent, Ryan Kerrigan is aging, and Ryan Anderson has not yet proven to be either players long-term replacement.
Allen would have been one of the most highly regarded prospects attending the Senior Bowl, but he pulled out last second. Other than at quarterback, it is rare for probably first round prospects to participate in the Senior Bowl.
If he tests out as an elite athlete at the NFL Combine, he could end up a Top 10 Pick, and be off the board by the time the Redskins are on the clock. Personally, I don’t view him as a slam dunk top-10 pick.
Unlike many 3-4 OLB prospects who were undersized DE’s in college, and face a major transition to LB in the pros, Allen is already a stand-up OLB. Allen would provide the Redskins with an outside backer, with the skill set to rush the passer, defend the run, and drop into coverage. Some have argued that Kentucky did not use him enough as a pass-rusher, but it is his experience and comfort level in coverage that distinguish him from other edge rushers in this draft class. In terms of usage in college, potential draft position, and possible NFL role, I compare him to a player like Leonard Floyd. Floyd displayed similar versatility while at Georgia, but has yet to, and may never develop into a dominating pass-rusher in the NFL. Like Floyd, I see Allen as a multifaceted 3-4 OLB, who can be a piece of a team’s pass-rush plan, but may never put up the pass-rushing number of guys like Von Miller or Khalil Mack.