And the 2016 winner of the Bednarik Award...
And the 2016 winner of the Nagurski Trophy...
And the 2016 winner of the Lombardi Award...
And the 2016 winner of the Hendricks Award...
And the 2016 winner for Best Picture...
La La...Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen did so many good things as a defender in 2016. He recorded 69 tackles as a defensive end and tackle, 16 of those were for a loss and 10.5 of those were sacks. He recovered three fumbles and two of those were for touchdowns. He was a constant on Alabama’s near-generational defense this past season and it was almost impossible to stone him one-on-one.
He was, also, voted by his teammates as a permanent team captain for his strong leadership throughout the 2016 season.
Allen has the skills and character that all teams covet in a first round pick.
Allen’s Measurables Part 1
SB Nation’s Stephen White’s extensive breakdown of the former Alabama All-American is the Magna Carta of the man most are saying is the best all-around defensive lineman in the draft. Read it and you will understand Allen’s technique, strengths vs. weaknesses, etc.
Here, I can only talk about the player all of us got to watch on Saturdays and the Herculean ability that was on display week after week.
The identity of a draft-worthy defensive lineman is a tricky one. He should be known as a run stuffer, but should equally be able to get after the quarterback. He has to eat up blocks from multiple offensive linemen, but still be able to shed them. “Elite defensive lineman” is a mythical phrase.
We thought Jadeveon Clowney was the best there was coming out of college in 2013, yet it was only in the last year when the Texans moved him to outside linebacker that the professional world understood how truly great he was.
Myles Garrett is dealing with similar expectations right now, although he is most certainly a defensive end. Jonathan Allen, on the other hand, doesn’t have the freakish size and speed of the Garretts and Clowneys of the world. He’s 6’3”, 286 pounds and is being considered more of a run stuffer than an end at the next level.
That’s fine. Watch him play and you’ll see that he can both. We, here, at TSK saw him do both. The Texas A&M game from this past season is a smorgasbord of all the great things in Allen’s game.
“The Superman Tackle” is, of course, the highlight of this game. Really, it’s the highlight of Allen’s season, even though he’s done so many other tremendous things. You can’t even front, though, because in the tackle, you will see everything that is great about Allen as a defender.
The replay of Allen’s sack on A&M quarterback Trevor Knight is at the 00:45 mark and it’s a doozy. Honestly, the most telling part of how sound his technique is is how he sheds the left guard’s block. He gets out of his stance and immediately fakes left, uses his right arm to get the guard off balance and then finally his left arm to free himself fully of the block.
That is exactly how you teach it. The rest is just pure instinct and want-to. Freshman A&M running back Trayveon Williams is Knight’s last line of defense from the sack and his decision to go low isn’t a terrible idea. Allen just had other plans. A near-290-pound man leaps over the block and finds Knight for the sack. It’s a beauty.
We all know about this play. It’s going to be shown ad nauseam Thursday night as Allen’s moment happens. Bet money, it’ll be the very first one shown.
Watch the rest of his plays in this game, though, and it’ll bear out Allen’s athleticism and intelligence. He rarely is out of place, always plays his gap and the one tackle he actually misses, he gets back three plays later with a Johnny-on-the-spot scoop and score.
In the semi-final of the Playoff against Washington, Allen, again, shows his ability to snuff out plays at the line.
If you go to the 02:50 mark, you will see a great example of Allen’s experience of reading a quarterback in passing situations. Normally, a lineman as gifted as Allen will be sent on 3rd and long off the edge to get the quarterback. Not Allen, though. You have Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson for that.
Just place Allen in the interior of the line and let him read the screen the entire way, which is exactly what he does. Anderson, Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson all rush the quarterback, freeing Allen to suss out the screen and get to Myles Gaskin as he catches the ball. It’s pure scheme and Allen plays it as well as any defender in the draft.
Much of the punditry occurring right now says Allen is a top five pick on Thursday evening, although some small-minded simpletons have him falling out the top ten because of arthritis in his shoulder that Allen has stated will not affect his career in the NFL. You can look at his Combine numbers and be underwhelmed and that’s all well and good, but this is as pure a “look at the tape” pick for any team in the draft. Turn it on and realize you have a franchise player ready to go. As far as character goes, there are not too many who can outshine him, either.
Jonathan Allen is one of the surest and safest picks in the draft and those daft enough to pass on him will be seeing him destroying your left guard on Sundays.