Despite lacking sack numbers, the New England Patriots have a solid pass rush this season. That being said, its consistency and depth can still be improved — all while the group’s best player might have to be replaced: Trey Flowers is headed towards unrestricted free agency and will become a very wealthy man in early March; the Patriots will have to dig deep into their wallet in order to keep the 25-year old in the fold.
Even if Flowers is staying, however, New England might opt to add to the defensive edge. And according to Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar, a local product is a realistic option:
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Trey Flowers has become a good player for the Patriots, but New England needs another edge player who can get after the quarterback. Allen is a powerful edge player who can drive blockers backward and get after the passer.
Zach Allen is an intriguing player. At 6’5, 285 lbs, he brings impressive size to the table to serve as an edge rusher and has also been productive at Boston College: in 12 games this season for the Eagles, Allen registered 61 tackles and a career-high 6.5 sacks. “Zach Allen is a powerhouse defense end who does well to stack up blockers and hold his ground at the line of scrimmage,” The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs said about him.
But while the senior defender has plenty of positive traits — from his sound hand usage to his quick first step to his variety of pass rush moves — projecting him at the next level is not that easy. One part of the problem is limited athleticism. “A modest athlete with tight hips, projecting Allen to win around the corner consistently against NFL offensive tackles is hard to envision,” said Crabbs’ colleague Joe Marino.
“While he does offer upside rushing interior gaps, there are limitations to him defending the run on the inside,” he continued before pointing out that versatility might help the 21-year old carve out a consistent role at the next level. “Allen found success in college lining up in multiple spots along the defensive front and doing so in the NFL will help accentuate his playmaking ability given his limitations.”
Overall, Allen is a solid player that rather wins with technique, quickness and play recognition than with pure strength or athleticism. Whether or not this will be enough at the next level remains to be seen, but to count on the youngster to replace a player of Trey Flowers’ caliber one-for-one during his rookie season would be naive. Instead, Allen would likely benefit from being used in limited capacity early on and grown into a role.
Ideally, Allen would be added to a Patriots defensive that also has Flowers as a part of it — not just for New England’s sake but also to lift pressure off the player to perform in a prominent role from day one forward.