It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions have a multitude of holes across their defensive unit, and the biggest might be their need for an edge rusher. There are many to choose from, but not every guy is a good fit for Matt Patricia’s multiple defense. However, there is a guy that may be on the board by the time the Lions are picking early in the first round that I think will be a very nice fit for the defense: Kentucky pass rusher, Josh Allen.
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
6-foot-5, 260 pounds
2015 stats: 3 games | 1 solo tackle | 4 total | 1.5 TFL | 0.5 sacks | 1 PD
2016 stats: 13 games | 32 solo tackles | 62 total | 8.5 TFL | 7 sacks | 4 FF
2017 stats: 13 games | 32 solo tackles | 66 total | 10.5 TFL | 7 sacks | 1 INT | 3 PD | 2 FF
2018 stats: 12 games | 52 solo tackles | 84 total | 18.5 TFL | 14 sacks | 4 PD | 5 FF
Current draft projection: Top-10 pick
Josh Allen's pass-rushing stats when stacked up against the nation's edge defenders pic.twitter.com/0t5TID9fh1— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 22, 2018
Josh Allen is coming off of a huge 2018 and won the Chuck Bednarik Award this year, given to the best defensive player in the nation.
Allen contributed early as a freshman for the Wildcats, mostly on special teams, but didn’t see many snaps on defense until his sophomore year, where he exploded onto the scene with seven sacks in nine starts.
Surprisingly, Allen was just a two-star recruit out of Montclair, New Jersey. He received an offer from only seven schools via 247sports, including Kentucky, Alabama A&M, Kansas, Rutgers and other smaller schools. It’s been an interesting path for Allen, who has gone from the 46th-highest ranked recruit out of New Jersey to a projected top-five or top-10 pick in the upcoming draft.
- First step and burst is very impressive; explodes out of his stance.
- Athleticism is a plus. Good enough bend and flexibility for an edge rusher. Capable of dropping back into coverage.
- Good understanding of routes developing in front of him in zone coverage. Has also shown flashes in man coverage as well. Do-it-all linebacker.
- Shows great discipline and holds contain well in the run game, forcing the ball carrier into the heart of the D-line.
- Closing speed is very good. Turns on his second gear to close on the QB or ball carrier and finishes well.
- Mostly lined up in 3-point stance, but versatile enough to play with his hand in the dirt.
- Would like to see him develop a larger array of pass rushing moves. Often couldn’t get to the QB on speed rushes, because tackles would overcommit to the outside. Needs to develop a nice inside move, as well as counters.
- Speed to power is just okay. Doesn’t really jolt blockers upon first contact, and could maybe add some additional upper body strength.
- Improved on hand usage in 2018, but could still make some extra improvements there to master his craft.
Overview and Projection
There isn’t much to dislike when it comes to Josh Allen’s game. Like most pass rushers coming out of college, Allen is still a bit raw in terms of his skillset, but with the right coaching and some added variety to his pass rush moves, I believe he can turn into one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.
Allen’s experience as a pass-rushing outside linebacker and versatility makes him an ideal fit in Patricia’s multiple scheme, and I believe the Lions front office will have him very high on their board, if not at the very top by the time they’re on the clock.
In Detroit, I see Allen lining up mostly as their stand-up pass rusher, much like Devon Kennard has this past year. Think of a Rob Ninkovich role more so than a Chandler Jones role if we’re talking about Patricia’s past defenses. Allen’s versatility and ability to drop back into coverage will be a huge selling point for both Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, who have shown in the past that they love to draft players on defense that can play multiple roles.