Arizona Cardinals rookie film room: 5 plays that define Zach Allen
Play 4: Vs. Notre Dame, 2nd quarter, 2:27 remaining, 1st & goal
What the offense is running: Mesh concept out of shotgun.
What the defense is running: Cover 1 (man) with a robber.
What Zach Allen is tasked to do: Gain edge pressure from the 5-technique.
What happens: This is one of those reps that must be shown. Allen must create edge pressure versus a stout offensive line but struggles to do just that. While some of the lack of pressure is due to the chip block by the running back, it’s mostly due to his lack of burst and bend around the edge.
Allen isn’t the athletic type of defensive lineman. He’s powerful, has a strong hand punch, and has a good first step, but he’s not bendy. That shows on this play as Allen attempts to reel around the tackle in hopes for a speed-rushing-esque sack. Notice how Allen is almost completely upward; he’s not bending around the edge. That lack of bend disallows him to gain immediate pressure.
However, it’s nice to see that Allen is able to get in the quarterback’s face. He’s able to use a right-hand rip to move the offensive lineman outside, in turn, gaining inside pressure.
- Allen’s lack of bend is exactly why he shouldn’t be classified as an edge rusher. Against NFL tackles with developed footwork and kick-slides, Allen will struggle to reel around the edge. Though he can certainly win with power as an edge rusher, he simply won’t be the guy to create speedy sacks.
- There are positives from this play, including his effort, power, first-step, and ability to use his hands to get inside.
- Ultimately, Allen played as 4-3 edge rusher at Boston College more than he did inside. While he was certainly effective in this role, it shouldn’t be what he plays in the NFL full-time; he’s simply not bendy or fast enough to create consistent pressure. However, his game looks to be a perfect fit as a 3-4 defensive end.