The 2019 NFL Draft has a potentially historic crop of front seven players, with the top of the draft absolutely littered with elite athletes and dominant defenders.
In draft classes like that, it can be easy for good players who don’t have eye-popping measurables or flashy games to get lost in the shuffle. But that might create opportunities for teams to find players at good value if they have a solid evaluation and a plan to put those more under-the-radar prospects in position to succeed.
Take Boston College’s Zach Allen for instance. There are few players in the draft who are more productive or better at disrupting an offense, but he is not being talked about as an elite, first round prospect. Part of that is due to a game predicated on hustle, but also some athletic limitations leave scouts wondering about his role in the NFL. But given the “multiple” nature of the New York Giants defense, he might just be a natural fit in James Bettcher’s scheme.
- Good size and length.
- Powerful player, able to stack blockers and drive them into the backfield.
- Heavy, aggressive hands.
- Shows a wide variety of pass rush moves.
- Good awareness and football IQ
- Deals well with cut blocks.
- High revving motor. Absolutely relentless in pursuit.
- Highly, and consistently, productive.
- Lacks lower-body flexibility to consistently bend the edge.
- Good but not great first step, occasionally gets caught guessing.
- High motor player, but range is limited.
What They’re Saying
“Zach Allen is a very good college football player whose athletic limitations could be his undoing in the NFL. He dominated certain matchups in college with a quick first step, nuanced hand usage and a non-stop motor, but in the NFL his position and role remain uncertain.
At 280+ pounds, Allen has the size to project inside, but played there very sparingly for Boston College and wasn’t particularly impactful when he did. He was almost always aligned on the edge, but lacks the bend and flexibility, as well as the arc speed, to really threaten tackles on their outside hip. Right now he looks like a player that will have to become even more versatile in his alignments to succeed at the next level, which makes the inside reps he will undoubtedly get at the Senior Bowl even more important.”
- Jon Ledyard (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Allen does fit the Giants’ defense, but he is something of a projection there as a prospect.
The Giants run a “multiple” defense that is primarily a 1-gap front -- that is, front seven players are generally only responsible for a single gap, and that is what Allen projects to best. However, Boston College’s defense is generally a 4-3 front, with Allen playing the 7-technique defensive end. For the Giants he would be a 5-technique who would move inside on nickel downs. While Allen does project well to that kind of alignment, and his tight hips and ankles would likely limit him as a 4-3 defensive end, it would be a new position.
But he should be able to make the transition fairly seamlessly. Allen has a good first step to go with plenty of power to put blockers back on their heels, as well as heavy, active hands to keep offensive linemen from locking in on his chest plate. He doesn’t quite have the play strength to be a two-gapping lineman, dealing with a pair of blockers, but he does have enough strength to make plays while being blocked.
Allen has first round production, with 161 tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 10 passes defensed, and a pair of interceptions over the last two seasons, but in a stellar front seven class, he could slip to the second round.