Many were surprised that Jonathan Allen was available with the 17th overall pick for Washington. Allen’s ‘fall’ in the first round was not due to any medical reasons. Sure, having two potentially arthritic shoulders was a cause for concern. However, the main reason for Allen’s drop was how he tested at the NFL Combine.
Pre-combine, Allen’s tape made him a talent worthy of a top-five pick. Post-combine, his chances of success in the National Football League were diminished considerably. Compared to other defensive ends, he tested below the 15th percentile in five categories. For teams, the combine is not everything. Tape is crucial. That said, it does provide front offices with the opportunity to more accurately predict the chances of success for prospects:
He may be forced into a 3 tech role in the pros, where he compares only slightly better to other defensive linemen:
His numbers were eerily similar to Detroit Lions defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who was a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks. Hill’s best level in the league has been in the pass-rush rotation at defensive tackle. Of course, he did not produce the same film that Allen did:
Allen's testing reminds me of Jordan Hill, even if he is lighter. Crazy that a great DE's best fit may have to be 3 tech, due to limitations pic.twitter.com/UrkP9TWzFt
— Matty Brown (@mattyfbrown) March 6, 2017
Hill, though, came into the league at 303 pounds. Allen is just 286 pounds, and he will need to add weight. This brings more questions. Is Allen capable of adding that weight? Can Allen play at that weight? How much will Allen’s athleticism suffer when adding pounds? Finally, while the medical issues were not a reason for the fall, can he add bulk via the training table and weight room while avoiding undue stress on his shoulders?
This is not to say that Allen is doomed to fail in the NFL. Michael Bennett is another player who disappointed at the combine, and it saw him go undrafted. Like Allen, Bennett had an inside-out rusher to him. Bennett, though, was 12 pounds lighter than Allen. Allen must find a weight to be successful in the league; be it lighter or heavier. He will also have to lean on his technique, rather than the numbers which saw him descend in the draft.