When the 2016 college football season ended, Jonathan Allen was widely regarded as the second-best prospect in this year’s NFL Draft.
Some experts were willing to put Allen in the same breath as Myles Garrett, who’s been the consensus top prospect in this draft for much of the past year. Allen was simply one of, if not the best defensive player in college football last year, as well as a consensus top-five pick in this draft with many projecting him to the 49ers at No. 2 overall.
Now, seeing Allen fall all the way to the No. 9 spot seems feasible heading into the NFL Draft. Part of that is due to shoulder issues from college, and part of it is Allen not having a clear-cut position in the NFL, especially in a 4-3 defense like the Bengals run. But Allen is too good of a player to let fall out of the top 10, and I still think he won’t make it to No. 9.
The 6-foot-3, 291-pound lineman recorded 69 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last season, along with two fumble returns for a touchdown, earning him the Bronko Nagurski Trophy last season as the nation’s best defensive player. That was after a junior season in which he recorded 36 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Here is the case for the Bengals taking Allen at No. 9:
- Allen could fill the Bengals’ biggest need at defensive end while also giving them a lineman who plays on the interior.
- He’s a complete lineman who can rush the passer and thrive as a run defender at tackle and end, a rarity for any NFL lineman.
- 22.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons in the SEC is absurd production, and that’s exactly what this Bengals defense needs more of.
- Allen is a rare prospect who’s exactly the kind of instant-impact defensive lineman the Bengals badly need alongside Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.
- Allen is ranked as a top-five prospect by every major service, including No. 2 by Pro Football Focus.
- PFF also had Allen leading all interior defensive linemen with 67 pressures in 2016. The Bengals need a major pass-rush upgrade, and Allen gives it to them.
- He may not have a clear-cut position right away, but Allen does everything well enough that he’ll get a ton of snaps playing defensive end and tackle early in his career.
- Allen may have long-term durability concerns, but he’s one of, if not the best player in terms of instant impact that Cincinnati can get here. He’s the kind of player who could keep the Bengals’ closing Super Bowl window from shutting completely.
Here is the case for the Bengals passing on Allen at No. 9:
- Allen is a tweener who an NFL team will have to work with just to figure out where his best fit lies.
- The Bengals need defensive ends, not tackles, and there’s a good chance Allen is a tackle in a 4-3 defense.
- Earlier this offseason at the NFL Scouting Combine, reports surfaced that Allen already has arthritis in his shoulders, a condition that wouldn’t bode well for his long-term durability in the NFL.
- Alabama’s team doctor also revealed that both of Allen’s shoulders have been surgically repaired.
- It’s no secret that Alabama players enter the NFL with a lot more wear and tear than most schools, which causes them to be injury-prone. Allen has a good chance to be the latest in line of banged up Alabama players in the NFL.
Despite his flaws, I believe Allen is very likely to be the pick at No. 9 if he’s still on the board. Would you like that selection for the Bengals?