Alabama’s Jonathan Allen differs greatly from the stereotypical run-stuffing behemoth we associate with Crimson Tide defensive linemen. He’s almost lanky by Alabama standards at 6-foot-3, 294 pounds, and constantly on the move.

But don’t think he doesn’t play the run well. In fact, he’s great at stopping the run — he just does it with attributes other than just brute strength. The big difference between Allen and the Crimson Tide norm is that he’s also a big-time pass rusher and can play any position on the defensive line with aplomb.

It’s a testament to how dominant he was at Alabama that he walked away with the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Ted Hendricks Award and the Bronko Nagursky Trophy.


While he’s not Jarran Reed strong, Allen has enough power, especially in his lower body, to make him hard to block. He uses his strength astutely, and he’s unlikely to lose any battles at the college level by being out-leveraged or attacking from too high a base. You won’t see him pushed backward, and his ability to stalemate or even control offensive linemen often gives him a bit more time to spot and react to the ball.

Allen has solid burst off the snap for a man his size and shoots gaps with precision. One moment of hesitation of an offensive lineman’s part can lead to Allen wreaking havoc in his opponents’ backfield. He led the team in hurries in 2016 with 15, tied for the led in sacks with 8.5 and also had 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Despite being blessed with so many natural gifts, Allen is a dedicated technician and employs an excellent technique. His arm use, in particular, gives opponents fits and helps him rush the passer.

From an army family, Allen has no character flags. He’s set to earn his degree in financial planning and consumer affairs, and was elected as one of the team’s spokesmen for the media.


While Allen has good burst for an inside guy, he’s not as explosive as you’d want an edge rusher to be, so he’s probably limited to playing 3-technique or 5-technique in the NFL.

Allen doesn’t have long speed, and is not often a factor in plays run away from him.

His future

There’s not a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want Allen.

But with many of the teams at the top of the draft having pressing needs at positions other than interior defensive lineman, he could go anywhere in the first eight picks or so, with Jacksonville or Chicago being likely stops.

Whoever drafts him would be smart to play him at several positions, moving him around to take advantage of mismatches. But they should not expect him to ever be a quality edge guy.

His closest NFL comparison would probably be the Jets’ Sheldon Richardson, but with much better self-discipline both on and off the field.

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