Ranking the Arizona Cardinals 2019 rookies off of their NFL comparisons
By Avery Duncan
6. Zach Allen – DL
Player comparisons: Brett Keisel (Charlie Campbell), Dean Lowry (Lance Zierlein), Cameron Heyward (Chris Trapasso), Deatrich Wise Jr. (Matt Miller), Pernell McPhee (Erik Lambert)
Names like Brett Keisel, Pernell McPhee, and Cameron Heyward may not be the most popular, but they are fair, high-upside comparisons for Zach Allen. Though Allen was used primarily as a 4-3 edge rusher for Boston College, his comparisons tend to be closer to 3-4 defensive ends.
That’s not a bad thing. Zach Allen may be a tweener at 6-foot-4 and 281-pounds, but he has the powerful game mixed with experience to seamlessly slide in the Cardinals 3-4 front. Because of this, the Heyward comparison from Chris Trapasso is the highest profile, and perhaps most accurate one. Trapasso said this of his comp;
"Coming out of Ohio State in 2011, Heyward was known as a relatively polished, power defensive lineman who could play anywhere near the edge in any type of base alignment. He was pegged as someone who’d fit best in a run-support role as a strongside end in a 4-3 with enough power and two-gapping ability to play the five technique as an end in a 3-4. Allen is very similar athletically, and I love his scheme and positional versatility. Plus, like Heyward, he can win at the point of attack with sheer power or the occasional pass-rushing move."
Again, this is a favorable, and rather accurate comparison, as the two, as Trapasso said, are both molded to set the edge in the 4-3 and can kick inside. Allen’s ability to play inside stem the McPhee, Keisel, Wise, and Lowery comparisons. All four are big, physical specimens that do the dirty work inside.
At the end of the day, Allen’s comparison’s aren’t flashy, but they do all share the ability to be solid 3-4 defensive ends. This is the position that Allen is expected to play for the Cardinals, and he may thrive in it. Don’t be surprised to see him start day-one if he has a solid pre-season.