Teams in need of an edge rusher have reason to be smitten with Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen.
But his ability to get after the quarterback is not all that Allen has in his repertoire.
“I think I’m one of the only guys who dropped into coverage half the season, as well,” Allen said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I pass-rushed. I also dropped in coverage, so that separates myself from a lot of the guys here.”
Allen is a unique talent, and somebody who would fit nicely into the 49ers’ scheme at the strongside linebacker position. Allen shows the ability to play the run and diagnose plays on first and second downs. He can also cover the tight end.
But on third downs, Allen would be exactly what the 49ers need as an edge rusher. The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
He would fit in just as well with the Raiders, who could pounce if he's available at No. 4 overall.
“He’s got real good bend. He gets around the edge. He’s real good at that, and he never stops. He’s got that motor,” said South Carolina left tackle Dennis Daley, projected as a mid-round draft pick.
Allen recorded three sacks in Kentucky’s 24-10 win over South Carolina on Sept. 29.
“Facing Josh Allen, it put in the back of my head, I never want to go through this again,” Daley said. “I kind of took my preparation to another level. He gave me a different game. He was the only person that really got sacks on me.”
Allen recorded pressure on nearly 25 percent of his pass-rush snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. He had the highest success rate of any pass-rusher in the country, with 17 sacks and 57 total pressures in 244 pass-rush snaps.
He also dropped into coverage approximately 150 times and allowed just 130 yards receiving and no touchdowns, according to PFF.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley said Allen gave his team’s offense the most problems last season because of his versatility. Allen recorded three sacks in Kentucky’s 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.
“Josh Allen was definitely one in this draft class and throughout this last year was probably the toughest one we had to go against from a game-plan perspective because how they’ll play him in a rush, they’d drop him at times,” McSorley said. “So it was hard to know exactly when he was coming but you always had to make sure he was protected.”
Allen returned for his senior season and made the most of the situation to turn himself into a likely top-five selection.
“I thought he was the most improved player I saw this year,” said Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, who previously worked five years for the Seattle Seahawks as a southeast region scout.
“This is a lesson to all these underclassmen who are thinking about coming out early. Josh went from late-second, third-round pick to a potential top-10, top-five pick. He put on a lot of weight. He got stronger. He changed his game. He added to his pass-rush repertoire. He added a lot of power to his rush game. He’s the perfect example of why you come back to school.”
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Allen filled up his trophy case, too, winning the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards (best college defender) and Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive performance and character), as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was a consensus All-American.
When asked to whom he compares himself, Allen went straight to the top of the NFL ranks.
“I would say Khalil Mack and Von Miller,” Allen said. “I say that because they’re both the best at the position and I feel I’m the best, so I feel I should compare myself to the best. I feel my game symbolizes both of theirs.”
Height: 6-foot-4 7/8
Hand: 8 ¾ inches
Arm: 33 ½ inches
40 yard: 4.63
20 yard: NA
10 yard: NA
Bench reps: 28
Broad: 118.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.23
KHALIL MACK (2014)
Height: 6-foot-2 5/8
Hand: 10 ¼ inches
Arm: 33 ¼ inches
40 yard: 4.65
20 yard: 2.73
10 yard: 1.64
Bench reps: 23
Vertical: 40 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.18
VON MILLER (2011)
Height: 6-foot-2 5/8
Hand: 9 ¼ inches
Arm: 33 ½ inches
40 yard: 4.53
20 yard: 2.64
10 yard: 1.62
Bench reps: 21
Vertical: 37 inches
Broad: 126 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.06