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Sam’s Film Room: Jonathan Allen’s elite hand usage makes him steal of draft

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Jonathan Allen was one of my favorite prospects in the NFL Draft. Getting picked by the Washington Redskins at 17, he was the steal on Thursday night. His hand usage is what makes him an elite prospect as very few prospects know how to use them as well as him coming out of school.

While his on the field traits are very encouraging, he doesn’t have the elite size nor does he have the elite combine measurables that you look for in a first round talent. Overall, I still gave this pick an A+ not only because I love him as a player, but because he fits exactly what the Redskins desperately need in their defense.

As a pass rusher, he has heavy hands and he does a good job of landing them on the blocker’s chest plate. His most effective move is his push-pull bull jerk. In this move, he controls the blocker with his hands pushing them forward to imitate a bullrush. After they anchor for power, he yanks them back towards himself in order to propel past them to get into the backfield. As a run defender, he uses his hands to stack and shed blockers and work down the line of scrimmage. He has a strong upper body and consistently made plays with plus awareness and technique.

In the offseason, Washington fired their defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Hiring from within, they promoted Greg Manusky from linebacker coach. Allen’s fit and role with the team will really depend on what scheme they will run next year. Unfortunately, little is actually known on what they intend to do.

Regardless of the base scheme, the Redskins were in nickel for about 70% of their snaps last year. In that four down lineman front, Allen should slide inside and play as their 3-tech defensive tackle. This will allow him to use his interior pass rush moves to get to the quarterback. The Skins already have Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, and in the second round they picked another Alabama defender Ryan Anderson to play on the edge.

This was an excellent pick by the Washington Redskins and they are very fortunate he fell to them. Very few media members thought he would fall out of the Top 10 let alone the Top 5. Some claim he fell due to multiple shoulder injuries. While at Alabama, he’s torn his rotator cuff, labrum, and now has arthritis in his shoulders. While that may be the case, he did not miss a single game in his entire career at Alabama and I honestly think it was the average combine performance that did it.