Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
Jonathan Allen isn’t new to the national spotlight. As a senior in high school he was named the 2012 Virginia Gatorade High School Player of the Year and was ranked as the 28th best prospect according to ESPN. Now, just four years later, Allen has climbed the ranks as the No. 2 overall prospect heading into NFL Draft after leading the University of Alabama’s top ranked defense two years in a row.
At 6-foot-3, 291 pounds, Allen is certainly projected to be a first-round pick, if not a surefire top-five pick, as he can play both defensive tackle and defensive end.
Allen started his career at Alabama as an outside linebacker before quickly transitioning to the defensive line. Although he is now a true defensive lineman, Allen’s skill set combines the best of a defensive tackle, defense end and outside linebacker into one deadly force. In most defensive schemes, Allen can play on both the inside and outside of the defensive line and is dominant at either position in the right setting.
“I like to think I’m a technician, I can do a lot of things,” Allen said at the combine. “You want me to rush from a 3-technique, I can do it effectively, if you want me to bend the corner on the outside I can do it. I can play the run, I can play double teams. I can play above the tight end, can play the 6-technique, scoot, get off blocks. So, I feel I can do anything that I’m asked to do on the defensive line.’’
What makes Allen truly special is his ability to rush the passer from any point on the field. In his final two seasons at Alabama, he had a combined 22.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for a loss. Along with his excellent awareness and ability to get off of the ball quickly, Allen controls defenders in nearly every possible way.
Along with his skills on the field, Allen is also a natural leader.
There aren’t many downsides to Allen’s game as he is the No. 2 overall prospect in the draft. However, while he was very explosive in college, he played in less than half of the defensive snaps. This most likely speaks to Alabama’s defensive scheme and depth rather than Allen’s ability to stay on the field, but it is something that teams will look into.
Additionally, although Allen isn’t small, he doesn’t have the typical length of an elite pass rusher of a defensive lineman in the NFL. Although he can play the run effectively, he isn’t meant to clog the middle of a defensive line and take on double teams.
“I feel like I need to take my film study to another level, that’s something I pride myself in, doing a lot of film study,” he said on his biggest area of improvement. “But from all the vets I talk to, there’s just another aspect, another level you need to take your film study to. So that’s something I’m going to be looking into to improve…just knowing what to look at right down to the formations. Just little stuff you never thought about in college.’’
How he fits in Denver
For Allen to end up in orange and blue, John Elway would either need to pull off a huge trade to move up significantly in the draft, or a near miracle would have to happen to allow Allen to slip to them at No. 20. If somehow he does end up on the Broncos, he would be a welcome addition on the defensive line.
Allen would be the closest replacement to Malik Jackson as a rookie and would likely be even better than Jackson a few years down the line. In Denver’s 3-4 defensive scheme, Allen would spend most of his time at defensive end and would be an instant upgrade against both the run and pass.