After a stellar rookie campaign, Josh Allen fell flat on his face, or so it seemed. Now is as good a time as any to buy low on the IDP edge rusher from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Josh Allen was regarded as one of the best players in the 2019 draft class, but “slid” to seventh overall. Allen’s landing spot even seemed poor for production, considering that the Jaguars’ defensive line was stacked. He defied that notion and ended up having an excellent rookie season, setting himself up for some serious expectations going into his second season.
Unfortunately, things did not pan out the way he and the Jaguars had hoped, as injuries — and seemingly poor play — limited him. Those factors set up Josh Allen as an excellent IDP buy-low target. I believe he still has the tools to succeed, and that his rookie season was not a fluke. Let’s take a look at why Josh Allen can still succeed.
What is there to like about Josh Allen?
His athletic profile. Josh Allen is an absolutely explosive athlete. As a rookie prospect, he went into the scouting combine and just lit it on fire.
For his position, he had elite numbers in the bench press with 28 repetitions. A 40-yard dash at 4.63 seconds. And the 20-yard shuttle at 4.23 seconds. Allen also tested relatively high in the 3-cone drill, coming in at 7.15 seconds. A 9’10” on the broad jump, all while checking in at 6’4″ and 262 lbs.
For comparison, let’s take a look at Myles Garrett, who is considered to have elite athleticism for his position and size.
Myles Garrett checks in at 6’4″ and 272 lbs, just 10 lbs heavier than Allen. He had a broad jump of 10’8,” a bench press with 33 repetitions, a 40-yard dash of 4.64 seconds (did not run a 3-cone drill). Allen is comparable athletically in all facets to Garrett, who is considered an elite athlete.
What does Allen do well?
Before we even get to Allen’s pass rush ability, let’s talk about his run defense. He has tremendous snap timing, which allows him to get inside his blockers and into the backfield. Watch below, as he gets out of his stance quickly, uses a swim move to beat his blocker, and then explodes for the TFL:
The #Jaguars somehow got Josh Allen at 7th overall. Thanks, league.
— Andrew Gibson (@1010XLAG) August 23, 2019
Allen has a relentless motor and when his initial pass rush moves do not succeed, he does a great job using counters to continue the pursuit. Below he first tries to use his bend off the edge, showing good flexibility, but a great block is made by the lineman. Instead of continuing to try to bend, Allen uses an excellent inside spin move to get to the quarterback:
Happy #Halloween 👻
— Andrew Gibson (@1010XLAG) October 31, 2019
Again, Allen has elite athleticism for the position. There are numerous occasions where he comes in on the backside of a play in pursuit of picking up the tackle or sack from behind. Here is one example of a sack in pursuit:
Fantastic sack by #Jaguars Josh Allen.
— Locked on Jaguars (@LockedOnJaguars) October 27, 2019
Allen also has great power in his bull rush as well in his grip and rip moves. Watch below, as he throws a 300+ lb offensive lineman around like a rag doll:
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) November 17, 2020
And again here as he just explodes past the lineman:
— Alex Walker (@AlexWalkerTV) October 20, 2019
Another trait that to highlight is Allen’s propensity to force turnovers. He does not always just go for the stop or sack. But he swipes at the football, looking to force fumbles. In the first clip, Allen comes in on Tannehill’s blindside and instead of just taking him down, swipes the football clean:
#Jaguars 1st round pick Josh Allen ended the season with 10.5 sacks, an impressive number for any pass rusher, let alone a rookie.
Allen is already very good at going from speed-to-power and using his length to push OTs back into the pocket.
Here are all of his sacks in 2019. pic.twitter.com/8ealy3y2Vm
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) January 10, 2020
Production Prior To Down Season
College Career: 42 games, 220 tackles (121 solos), 42 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, 1 interception, 11 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Josh Allen was an absolute beast during his time at Kentucky. He made 35 starts and did not miss a single game in his collegiate career. Allen helped lead Kentucky to a 10 win season in 2018, including a bowl win. It was the most wins for the program in 41 years.
Allen owns the Kentucky single-season (17) and career (31.5) record for sacks. Those 31.5 sacks are enough to earn him ninth all-time in the SEC for career sacks. His 41 career TFLs rank second all-time in Kentucky history. Allen also tied Danny Trevathan‘s career record for forced fumbles at Kentucky, with 11.
Though he was productive his entire collegiate career, Allen’s 2018 season was legendary. He finished with 88 tackles (56 solos), 21.5 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, 4 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Allen’s accolades were unbelievable as well.
After his tremendous season, Allen was a First-Team All-SEC selection, a consensus First-Team All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and swept the National Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He also received the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, and the Ronnie Lott IMPACT trophy.
NFL Rookie Season: 16 games (4 starts), 44 tackles (31 solo), 11 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 23 QB hits.
In drafting Josh Allen, it seemed like the Jaguars created a crowded edge-rushing room, rostering Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell already. Allen was a key contributor on this line right away. The versatility to move Calais Campbell inside was huge and created a potent pass-rushing trio. Allen made four starts as a rookie and ended up playing on 60% of the team’s defensive snaps, despite sharing time.
Allen went on to set the Jaguars rookie sack record with 10.5, breaking Yannick Ngakoue‘s previous record of eight. Allen added 23 QB hits and 39 pressures as a rookie. The 39 pressures ranked 11th in the entire NFL, more than both Von Miller and Danielle Hunter. Allen was also a prolific tackler, missing only three tackles, a missed tackle rate of 6.4%.
What made Josh Allen a buy-low target?
Josh Allen had some unreal expectations going into his second season in the NFL. After exploding onto the scene as a rookie, and looking like the Jaguars’ best edge rusher, he was rightfully being drafted as a DE1. Unfortunately, there were circumstances that forced Allen to falter. He found himself surrounded with a weaker supporting cast while also battling injuries and landing on IR.
Depth Chart Depletion
The Jaguars did not do Allen any favors by losing talent around him. In order to save cap space and cash in on an aging veteran, the Jaguars traded Calais Campbell to the Ravens for a measly fifth-round pick. The Jaguars were also dealing with disgruntled defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who was looking to get paid as one of the top edge rushers in the league.
Trading Ngakoue was a very smart move for the Jaguars because he was putting the front office on blast. Additionally, though he has had excellent sack numbers, Ngakoue is a bit one-dimensional. Starting his career, he has been a phenomenal pass rusher. But Ngakoue is not good at setting the edge in run defense and is best suited as a pass-rushing specialist.
Paying a one-dimensional edge rusher top dollar would have put a stranglehold on the Jaguars’ cap situation. So they traded Ngakoue for a second-round pick as well as a conditional fifth-round pick from the Vikings. This was a great haul, considering the Vikings then shipped Ngakoue to the Ravens just a few weeks later for a third-round and conditional fifth-round pick.
The loss of these two on the defensive line hurt Allen more than anything. He was now easily the most talented player on the defensive line, as he spent time lined up across from Dawuane Smoot, Adam Gotsis, and K’Lavon Chaisson — not exactly a group of world-beaters. As a result, all of the attention fell upon Allen.
If you just look at the stats from last season, it seems like Allen lost it. Plain and simple. Stats never tell the whole story. Allen finished 2020 with just 13 tackles, 2 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, and 11 QB hits in 8 games.
Think about the season he faced, though. Allen dealt with injuries that forced him to miss time, after never missing a game in college. That could have quite the mental impact on a young player. Add the loss of talent on the line, and it was probably demoralizing.
The Promise Is Still There
Allen actually played very well, despite his challenges. Injuries hampered him virtually all season, limiting him to just 35% of the team’s defensive snaps. That’s only about half of last year’s snaps, yet he was on pace to come close to matching pressure rates from his rookie season.
Through eight games with only 35% snap share, Allen still was able to come up with 16 pressures — on pace for 32 pressures in 16 games. That is only seven short of his rookie season, which is impressive, considering the circumstances. Allen also had 11 QB hits, on pace for just one shy of his rookie season total of 23.
As mentioned, Allen also faced more double teams. Even dating back to his rookie season, he was great at beating double teams. Allen had a higher win rate against double teams than the likes of Harold Landry, Cameron Jordan, Brandon Graham, Maxx Crosby, and Danielle Hunter in 2019 while facing more than all of them.
Josh Allen had one injury-plagued down season — his second season. The guy is an absolute stud and shows an innate ability to create pressure and win against double teams, injuries or not. Allen will come into 2021 with a full off-season, unlike 2020. He should have zero health concerns going into this season. K’lavon Chaisson showed vast improvement by the end of 2020, which should bode well relieving Allen of so much attention.
The pressures are still there, the QB hits are still there, and the win rate is still there. Allen just needs to stay healthy. His missed tackle rate and lack of total tackles were directly linked to his injuries and lack of time on the field. He was relegated to a pure pass rush role when on the field in 2020.
With a clean bill of health, fire Allen up. He is currently being drafted at DE13 in the IDP Guys ADP, and 151.75 overall. This is behind nine defensive backs, which is blasphemy, and 19 linebackers. I am jumping on Allen all day, and you should not be scared to do so as well.
Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @JoeyTheToothIDP, and check out all of my IDP, Devy, and Offensive work at idpguys.org. Be sure to order our rookie draft magazines, which we load with fantastic player profiles and landing spot analysis.