Greg Gabriel early 2019 NFL Draft breakdown: Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen
Not every player I write up for my early 2019 NFL Draft breakdown series is a sure premium round (Rounds 1-2) draft choice. Some of the prospects have flashed talent during their careers but need a strong 2018 college football season in order to reach that premium-round level. Such is the case with Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen, who has flashed some big-play talent but not on a down-to-down basis.
A good “program guy,” Allen enters his senior season having showed steady improvement each year at Kentucky. Coming out of high school, he was not highly recruited — in fact, Kentucky was the only major program who offered him. Allen’s other offers were from the likes of Buffalo and Monmouth. The reason he was lightly recruited is that he was undersized and transferred to a high school in his home state of New Jersey after he spent his first three years of high school in Alabama.
As a true freshman, Allen played as a backup, earning play time mostly on special teams. He started to take off during his sophomore year, when he started nine games and finished the season with 7 sacks and 62 total tackles. Last year Allen started every game, finishing with 66 total tackles and 7 sacks. He has gotten bigger and stronger each year he has been in the program.
This year, Allen is listed as being 6050 – 260, but after seeing some practice tape I doubt he is really 260. A good athlete, Allen is a natural bender and can change direction. He has good but not great speed — based on his play speed, I would estimate he will run in the 4.70 range. Last season, he showed adequate strength, and that’s one area where he needs to show improvement this year.
Allen reads and reacts quickly and finds the ball. He seldom gets caught out of position. Where he can have some trouble is when setting the edge. He flashes but too often gets tied to blocks and even gives ground at times. Allen has quick hands, but he needs to add upper-body strength to be able to shed more quickly.
Allen is used in coverage at times and takes a good drop, gets depth and can keep plays in front of him. He shows he can cover backs and tight ends man to man and has good awareness when in zone. His ability to react to the ball in the air and plant and drive on the play is good, and he has one career interception.
Though Allen has 14½ career sacks, I feel that this is an area where he needs improvement. He doesn’t consistently generate pressure in the film I’ve watched. Getting a sack every other game is good production, but he has to generate additional pressures more often during a game. Adding strength and more moves to his rush arsenal will help Allen improve in this area. He too often can’t disengage from a block quick enough to get the needed pressure.
Entering the 2018 campaign, Allen looks to be a Day Two — maybe even early Day Three —prospect. But he is not that far away from being a possible premium-round guy. With some added strength and explosion this offseason, he could become one of the more improved players in the country. The arrow is definitely going up for Allen. Playing in the SEC, he faces the best competition in college football, so it won’t take much for him to improve his draft stock.
I certainly will be watching Allen closely as I feel that by midseason, his name is one we could hear quite often as a possible top-round edge defender.