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Zach Allen Could Make Immediate NFL Impact

By Dave Holcomb
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The Boston College defensive end broke out during his junior year with 100 total tackles, including 15.5 for loss and 6.0 sacks.

Boston College defensive end Zach Allen isn’t going to be at the very top of many draft boards. While he still has three months to prove the scouts wrong, Allen’s athleticism is the reason he is outside the top five defensive ends in the 2019 class.

At the position in recent years, super-freak athletes such as Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett went No. 1 overall. Allen doesn’t have anywhere close to that type of athleticism.

But Allen is a grinder and will be a prized pick for an NFL team in the late first round.

The Boston College defensive end broke out during his junior year with 100 total tackles, including 15.5 for loss and 6.0 sacks. The Eagles were missing Harold Landry down the stretch of that season, but Allen stepped in to ensure the Boston College defense didn’t skip a beat. It didn’t, and many thought Allen would actually be drafted before Landry had he come out of school last year.

While Landry became an early second-round selection, Allen returned to Boston College. As the Eagles’ top defensive player -- and the guy every team gameplanned against every week -- Allen shined again, recording 61 total tackles, including 15.0 for loss and 6.5 sacks.

Walter Football has Landry ranked as the No. 6 defensive end in the 2019 draft class. While CBS Sports has a couple different defensive ends in front of him, he’s also the sixth defensive end taken in their newest 2019 NFL mock draft.

They both love him as a pass rusher. From Walter Football:

Allen is a tough run defender and steadily puts pressure on the quarterback. He has good instincts, feel, and is a well-rounded player who has versatility for a 4-3 or 3-4 in the NFL. Allen is very strong and a bully on the field.

While The Draft Network says he is “capable of factoring into an NFL defensive line rotation right away,” they also heavily cited his deficicienes with evaluating him at the end of December.

“A modest athlete with tight hips, projecting Allen to win around the corner consistently against NFL offensive tackles is hard to envision,” wrote The Draft Network staff. “While he does offer upside rushing interior gaps, there are limitations to him defending the run on the inside.”

Nowadays, with the CBA set up the way it is, NFL teams need their rookies, especially first-round choices, to make impacts immediately. Some of these draft skinnies don’t seem to be projecting him as a starter in 2019, but should he land with a playoff team late in the first-round, that might be the best fit for him anyway.

Allen is versatile, as he possessed the ability to line up anywhere on the defensive front in college. NFL teams can use this skill, disguising him against offenses. One play he could line up on the end, then he’ll leave the field for a play, and on the next snap, he can be lined up over the center.

This skill will also make Allen attractive to teams looking for general defensive line depth. Allen can be plugged anywhere along the line if there’s an injury.

Playoff teams don’t need first-round choices to make as major of an impact in their first seasons, so that would be ideal for Landry. In various mock drafts, he’s landed with the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams.

Both teams have tremendous talent on the defensive line already, which would be ideal situations for Allen. He could learn playing behind them and develop at his own pace.

However, The Draft Network staff doesn’t anticipate Allen remaining a rotational player his whole career. Despite his deficiencies, he’s still receiving a first-round grade, and The Draft Network projects him to provide production as a starter by the beginning of his third season.

It will be interesting to see how Allen continues to project in mock drafts over the coming months, but he appears destined for a smaller role as a rookie. Allen could slip into the second round, which he obviously doesn’t want but for more than just the money.

His best fit would most likely be with a playoff team that will use his versatility as a rotational pass rusher in 2019.