Film Study: Jonathan Allen

That’s pretty cool, huh? You’re looking at the newest addition to the Washington Redskins defensive line, ladies and gentlemen. That, of course, is former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who won pretty much every award a defensive player can get at the college level. What seemed like a total dream scenario became a reality on Thursday night. The Redskins were in serious need of upgrading their defensive line and happened to land the best one you could get. Allen, arguably, was the best defensive prospect in this draft. The concern with him and why he fell to the Redskins at 17 overall is due to concerns with his shoulders. However with his talent and the Redskins obvious need for talent at his position, it was a match made in Heaven. The fact that he grew up in the Ashburn/Loudoun County area right near Redskins Park is the cherry on top.

What Allen brings to the Redskins is a fundamental, intelligent, versatile, and saavy defensive lineman that excels in all facets of the game. He can stop the run and rush the quarterback, and the Redskins were in dire need of both. The Redskins will most likely have him line up at defensive end in their base 3-4 package and then kick inside to the 3-tech defensive tackle spot in the sub packages. Let’s take a quick look at what Jonathan Allen has to offer to the Redskins, shall we?

Run Defense

Allen excels at shedding blocks to disrupt a team’s running game.

In the rep above, Allen does a tremendous job of reading the running back. He identifies the gap the running back is aiming for, takes away that gap forcing the back to cut back, and then sheds the offensive lineman to force the stop. Even if the running back didn’t cut back Allen would’ve been right there to make the tackle. Running backs are taught that if they “see color” (meaning the other teams jersey) to cut away from that. Allen is a smart player and recognizes this. What really helps him to make this play is the extension he gets on the offensive lineman. Because he was able to lock him out with his arms and get separation, he was able to manipulate the running backs actions. You see a lot of this from Allen in his game at stopping the run. He can overpower guys at times, but he’s also very much a finesse type of defensive lineman much like Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins (who he admits he models his game after)

Pass Rush

You’ve seen the “Superman sack” enough times that you don’t need me to break it down for you. Allen is very good at getting to the Quarterback as an interior guy. He uses his hands and quickness to beat guards easily. His favorite go to move is the “club” move (as seen in the “Superman sack” at the top of the page) or a quick “swim move”. However, one thing that goes slightly unnoticed is his explosiveness and quickness off the ball.

Yes, I realize that Allen was unblocked on this play to get the sack but look closer!

The ball has been snapped and look how much quicker off the ball Allen is compared to the rest of the defensive line. Explosiveness like this off the ball is going to be a problem for interior offensive lineman. Match that with his exceptional hand usage and you got a nightmare to block on passing downs.

High Football IQ

Allen is not just a skilled defensive lineman, he’s also a student of the game and is quick to figure out what an offense is doing. In particular he’s really good at sniffing out screens. Here are two examples of his instincts and football IQ on display:

In this play, Allen sees the left tackle leave to go block downfield and immediately identifies that the offense is running a screen pass. He then follows the running back to the flat which then forces the quarterback to just throw the ball in the turf. He’s really good at identifying visual keys.

For example, in his sit down with Charlie Casserly discussing the “Superman sack” play, he knew by looking at the left tackle’s stance that they were passing the ball which let him pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. After easily beating the guard he then sees the running back step up to block him. He knows that a running back won’t take on a big guy like him and block him straight up, he’ll instead try to cut block him. Because Allen knew this, he leaped over the running back as he attempted to cut him and the rest is history.

Allen, here, sniffs out the screen again after seeing the offensive line bail to block downfield. While he was in position to make the tackle and ended up missing it, he was still able to disrupt the play which lead to a minimal gain. These two plays are not going to show up on the stat sheet but they’re impactful nonetheless.

Allen brings a lot to the table for the Redskins. The defense was in serious need of a talent upgrade and got off to an exceptional start to the Draft last night. Allen will no doubt in my mind be a future pro bowler and leader of the Redskins defense and should have a big impact on this defense as a rookie.




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