Zach Allen - Beast Of The East
It's no secret this year's defensive class, in particular the defensive line, is brimming with top flight potential and talent. If you're a draft fan you're familiar with the hyperbole that gets thrown around at times, but this is a unique group that looks special. No doubt you've heard plenty of names. Oliver, Bosa, Lawrence, Gary, the list goes on for days and deservedly so. One that isn't mentioned nearly enough is Zach Allen. If you don't know by now, get familiar. Allen is the top prospect from a very talented Eagles defense that should produce a few draft picks. He has an NFL ready skill set, physique and brings the type of versatility teams crave for today's "multiple" defensive schemes.
At 6'5" and 280+ pounds, Allen racked up 100 tackles, 15.5 TFL and 6 sacks, playing all over the defensive line. Whether he was shaded inside, over the nose, base-end in a 34 or 43, Allen was all over the field. Most importantly he made an impact everywhere he went. The Connecticut-raised product displayed discipline & tenacity in his approach and play. He stood out doing the little things that put you into position to make a play. That said Allen knows how to use his length and strength to be a game changing-type player. He does a great job at playing with leverage in both the pass and run game. He's excellent at getting underneath his man's pads and re-directing him out of the picture, usually with power from a long arm. A calling card of his. #2 is the definition of a people mover. One thing I love seeing is pass rushers kick the rush back inside after they have their guy out of position and Allen does just that. He'll never be confused with his former teammate, Harold Landry (Now a Tennessee Titan) but he can create pressure running the arc as well. Again, he's a versatile player with a bag of tricks to get after the QB. His go to is definitely power, whether it's a long arm/press or bull rush but he displayed adequate hand usage and the ability to string a few moves together as well. He showed this off with a sweet stab/snatch in the Virginia Tech game, as well as a swat/rip. Allen definitely has some variety to his pass rush game and win by running the loop or kicking inside.
I believe Allen's ability in the run game might be where his true upside resides though. At times he rag dolls his opponents and stands up guys 40-50lbs heavier than him with ease. He's a grown man, folks. That said, like I mentioned above it's the little things he does that stand out. He does a great job at using his length and keeping his feet moving to keep his outside shoulder clean on edge. When lined up inside he consistently played with great bend, as he's very adapt at making himself a smaller target to strike or reach. His patience and quick processing is more than evident when it comes to defending the run-pass-option (RPO), designed runs etc. Usually it leads to an efficient and decisive outcome that ends with Allen making a positive play and putting his opponent on the ground. It's more than obvious he studies and actually absorbs his work in the film room because he always puts himself in the proper position to impede the runner. It certainly helps being able to move at 6'5"/280 with the ability to stack/shed like nobody's business.
He should only improve after studying and being taught by pass rushing guru Chuck Smith. Smith really makes it a point to focus on body control/flexibility, burst and hand usage. A touch of nuance would go along way with Allen. He's also committed to eating right/improving his diet, so I can't wait to see the result of all the hard work he put in this off season. Allen's game, body type, and versatile skill set translates to the NFL. It's in demand specifically in today's game where you need three down players with the ability to perform multiple actions. His flexible style, toughness, and willingness to do whatever it takes will allow his coaches to squeeze his potential out of him across the line to create the best match ups on the field. If you didn't know, now you do. Zach Allen is someone to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Below are some examples of Allen's play.
Working as the RDE, Allen utilizes a sweet stab/snatch to get past the tackle.
This time at LDE, Allen wins with length and strength controlling distance. He keeps his feet running, his outside shoulder clean, and sheds to claim a tackle for a loss.
Once again at RDE, Allen swats away the punch then follows with a rip to get past Virginia Tech's Yosuah Nijman. One of his most impressive reps against Virginia Tech.
This rep at LDE, Allen once against uses his length to maintain control over the blocker, spots the runner, and sheds to make another tackle for a loss.
Here he uses the long arm to drive back the Notre Dame right tackle and create an opening to slice inside.