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Jonathan Allen is the defensive lineman 31 NFL teams will regret they didn't draft

He might just be the best pass rusher in the draft. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White takes a closer look at the Bama product who can do damn near everything.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Allen is what would happen if Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Buccaneers three technique Gerald McCoy had a baby.

(Don't question the science, just go with it.)

Combine the best attributes of Bennett and McCoy on the field and that's what you see when you watch Allen on tape.

Bennett's so versatile, playing up and down that Seattle defensive line. And he’s amazingly precise with his hands, whether when he is playing the run or the pass.

Those are two of Allen's best qualities as well.

When I watch tape, I make special note of the plays involving the player I'm breaking down that jump off the screen, whether in a good or bad play. Of those kinds of plays that I took note of on Allen, over 46 of them came at right defensive end.

Another 50 came as a defensive tackle on either side of the center.

And 10 more came at left defensive end.

Those numbers also include several times where Allen was lined up as a zero nose, head up on the center, usually in passing situations.

As well as a few other times where Alabama actually had him standing up as the edge defender.

And at no time did he look like a fish out of water at any of those positions. However, I wouldn't quite say that at 6'3 and 286 pounds, Allen will ever end up playing as a stand-up edge rusher all that much on the next level.

Then again, after watching some of the things he did in these five games, maybe I shouldn't put it past him.

That's some scheme versatility for your ass!

After all the success that he has had in Seattle, I imagine most GMs, head coaches, defensive coordinators, and defensive line coaches are constantly on the lookout for the "next Michael Bennett" in the draft every year. Allen could certainly be that kind of a guy for any franchise. Hell, I'd draft him and then tailor the defense to what he does best.

He is that damn good!

He also plays with an edge, like Bennett, which also endeared him to me in a major way. Especially after doing Myles Garrett's breakdown prior to this one.

I will go into it more later, but when I said Garrett didn't look like past No. 1 overall picks, I really wasn't expecting that subject of my next breakdown would end up looking more worthy of that pick, but dammit, if that isn't exactly what happened!

I was just trying to go with the best DT available according to various mock drafts, after having done Garrett who was supposed to be the best edge rusher available. Turns out Allen ain't too shabby on the edge either.

And he was certainly as advertised inside.


(I'm not even really sure if we are able to #KanyeShrug in 2017, but I'm doing it anyway!)

This is where McCoy comes in. At Alabama, Allen played in a 3-4, but he was also able to showcase some very explosive rush moves on tape on passing downs. I'm not just talking about straight-ahead bull rushing either, but the kind of explosion that McCoy routinely displays when he does his jab-ole lateral/upfield arm-over moves.

And wouldn't you know it, Allen's combine performance looks a lot like Gerald McCoy's.

Thing is with Allen playing all over the defensive line, he was also able to showcase his ability to win with all kinds of moves, both power and finesse, one-on-one against centers, guards, and tackles.

Many times the only thing that saved the opposing offense's ass was that their coordinators were smart enough to double team Allen.

Whether it was a Bennett type of power move or a finesse rush like McCoy.

And all the while I'm just sitting here pitying those poor college offensive linemen. Those guys have families for goodness sake!

I swear, I tweeted out the other day that I hadn't been this giddy to re-watch a prospect's tape since Aaron Donald, and I meant that shit. Not even Jadeveon Clowney, who did some things on film that were just incredible for a guy his size, had me as sold as Donald and Allen. That's primarily because both Donald and Allen, in addition to being athletic, are also amazing technicians.

No matter whether it was a run or pass, no matter where he was lined up, Allen was generally going to have good hand placement and get good extension with his arms with good footwork. You gotta understand that being able to be consistent with all that at one position is usually hard AF. To be able to do it consistently at multiple positions is ridiculous!

Allen might be in a 2i head up on a guard anchoring down and fighting through a double team to get a tackle for a couple of yards one minute.

The next minute, he might be lining up as the left edge rusher and beating a right tackle clean on a rollout.

He wasn't perfect. No prospect ever is.

But on the overwhelming majority of plays I watched, Allen was whupping somebody's ass. That's the kind of player I want on my team, period.

Because he is so position diverse as well as scheme diverse, I can honestly say all 32 teams would benefit from drafting this kid. I will add that it would be a mistake for any of those 32 teams to pass on him if he is still on the board when they have a pick, if you get my drift.

And that brings me back to the Allen/Garrett comparison. I have to admit I might have been wrong about something in Garrett's breakdown.

Yeah, I can't believe it either.

I assumed that there wouldn't be a player in this class who was so much better than Garrett that the fans of the team that did draft Garrett would end up coveting the other guy.

After watching Allen's tape our lie detector determined that was a lie!

Allen was just so good in so many different spots, that I just feel like this guy is destined for greatness, the same way I thought Donald was destined for greatness. Allen doesn't have to worry about being labeled "too short" like they did with Donald. I don't know anybody who would say 6'3 is too short to play anywhere on the defensive line in this day and age. In some ways Allen should also benefit from what Donald has done so far in his career. A lot of teams are probably second guessing passing on him a couple years back.

*cough* Cleveland *cough*

Maybe, just maybe, those teams will think twice about making the same mistake again.

Of course Allen isn't the same kinda athlete that Donald is. Allen's motor, on the other hand, consistently runs way higher than Donald's did on his college tape.

There just aren't very many boxes that that Allen doesn't check off for what most teams are looking for in a defensive lineman. He has the size, ability, and technique that most defensive line coaches dream of getting in one player.

As for why I would choose him over Garrett, well it isn't just the disparity between them when it comes to effort, but if I am honest with myself I certainly have to admit it is a factor.

Look, its not like Allen didn't have any loafs in those five games. He definitely isn't perfect. But he wasn't even in the same universe to Garrett who had 18 plays that I flagged for questionable effort in five games.

As a contrast I had Allen with 16 plus-effort plays.

Plays where he probably knew he wouldn't make the tackle from behind, but he busted his ass down the field anyway.

Plays where he ran to the ball, and if the runner wasn't quite down yet, he made sure to give ‘em another hit on the way.

Plays where they didn't even block him because they thought that if they ran wide there’d be no way he could make it out there to make a play. They were wrong.

I'm not just talking about running to the ball either. I'm talking about finishing plays off where somebody with the ball is still trying to wiggle before going to the ground. Those hits tend to accumulate by the time the fourth quarter rolls around and you can see them slowing down.

When you see a guy and you can just tell that it really matters to him that he gets to the ball every single play, that's what my definition of having dog in you. Fighting your ass off and never giving up on a play is what I want to see when I bring up your tape.

I'm not trying to say that Garrett doesn't have dog in him, but more to the point Allen has an abundance of it. That gives him a leg up in my view.

And that effort is why Allen would always end up having three or four more tackles in the games that I watched, in addition to the sexy stats like sacks and hurries.

Oh, if you are a stats guy, Allen is your man, buddy!

In five games Allen had seven sacks while Garrett had four. Allen had 12 hurries, plays where he forced the quarterback into an incompletion, to Garrett's 10.

Pretty much the only statistical category where Garrett outshined Allen is tackles for a loss. Garrett had 12 to Allen's six. To me, that was more of a function of Allen moving around so much on the line, rather than an advantage for Garrett.

Let me put it this way, even while acknowledging that Garrett is better against the run than some give him credit for, who would you consider the better overall run defender of the two?


That's another reason why I really appreciate Allen's game so much; his hustle translates into more plays. If he can continue that kind of effort once he makes it to the NFL, then he will be able to affect the outcome of games even on days when he isn't getting as much pressure on the quarterback. As long as he can stay healthy, Allen is almost guaranteed to be productive from day one and fill up the stat sheet from week to week.

And let me tell you this. You might think that because Allen played on a veritable all star team at Alabama that maybe it was easier for him to get some of those big plays, but the reality is that having that much talent around you can be a gift and a curse for a great player.

I would see Allen do a great job of defeating a block and running to the ball, and then, just when he was about to make a highlight type tackle for a loss here comes one of his teammates beating him to the punch.

It sucks that you work that hard to make a play and then don't quite get there first, but those plays still give you a glimpse into the kinds of things Allen can do on the next level.

The biggest compliment that I can pay a player is that I don't think there is a coordinator out there that could screw them up. That is the kind of ability and versatility that I see when I watch Allen's film.

When I watch a guy who should be the No. 1, pick I expect them to jump off the screen at me. They are also usually special in some way. Allen damn sure jumped off the screen for me, immediately. After two or three plays, I was already muttering cuss words under my breath.

After ten or so plays I was yelling them.

I just didn't see the same thing with Garrett.

Now, I could be wrong. We will never know what Clowney might have been had his career not been curtailed by injuries early on. I said I thought both he and Mack would be good players, but that it would be Clowney who would end up being the Defensive Player of the Year type. Instead, Mack is the reigning Defensive Player Of The Year.

Hey man, shit happens!

Allen should go before Garrett because he is more of a sure thing and he shows more upside. I still believe that Garrett will be a very good player; I just think that Allen will be better.

Much better.

We shall see if whomever ends up with the top pick on draft night agrees.

UPDATE: Since writing this column, it was revealed that Allen has arthritis in his shoulders. Allen doesn't believe that it will have any effect on his play. I have no way of knowing how the team doctors around the league will look at his situation. All I can tell you is that I didn't see any evidence of weakness in his shoulders on tape. If this means he drops a little in the draft that’s understandable, but I still think barring injury and or him losing his mind off the field, Allen will have an Aaron Donald type impact on whichever team he goes to.

Since I don't have access to all-22 for college football games I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to Draft Breakdown, where they have the TV copy for a bunch of top prospects' already cut up and ready to go. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched Allen play against USC, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida and Washington. Those represented the first, seventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth games on Alabama's schedule last season, respectively.