The Cincinnati Bengals may discover a comparatively reasonably priced mid-tier utility participant on the open market who may bolster their pass-rush and total depth alongside the line of defense.
While the Cincinnati Bengals have had an efficient line of defense the previous couple of seasons, rotational gamers have come at a premium. When the crew made its shocking 2021 run, getting nice seasons out of Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard off the sting was key, as was the formidable rotation of D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill and Larry Ogunjobi inside.
In 2022, the lack of Ogunjobi was felt, although the crew began to get late contributions from Zachary Carter, Joseph Ossai and Cam Sample. Still, a rotational man who can get stress from quite a few spots this coming yr, whereas additionally assuaging snaps from veterans who’ve been pressured into excessive volumes may carry lots of worth.
We know that the Bengals have gone splashy in latest offseasons for out of doors free agent assist, however they largely persist with the mid-tiers for brand new additions. There is one such participant who matches the uncommon invoice of want, manufacturing, relative affordability and flexibility at premium defensive positions.
Zach Allen is a former third-round choose of the Arizona Cardinals who has begun to seek out his approach within the NFL. He has performed totally different spots within the league, however his bulking up from his school days performs into his professional versatility.
Zach Allen Free Agent Profile
College: Boston College
Years Pro: Entering fifth season
Age: 25 (Turns 26 in August)
Round Drafted: 2019 Third Round, No. 65 total
Allen apparently virtually gave up on soccer as a freshman in highschool, however caught with it and carved out a wonderful path for himself. He performed all 4 seasons at Boston College, the place he grew to become a full-time starter as a Junior, posting 16.5 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss and 15 passes defended as a Golden Eagle.
Teams appreciated the manufacturing, significantly his knack to make various tackles for loss—be it by a sack or sniffing out a run play—however, he examined fairly poorly. He ran a 5.0 40-yard sprint and didn’t wow of us with explosion from a man who was largely seen as an edge participant.
However, the Arizona Cardinals took him on the prime of the third spherical 4 years in the past with a particular plan in thoughts. Give the Day 2 undertaking time and use him at various elements of the line of defense to have an effect.
It labored—significantly in 2022, whereby Allen posted 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits and 35 pressures from totally different posts on the road. In addition, he had over 70.0 on Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush grades, over 60.0 in PFF run protection grades, and a good 72.7 total rating for the yr.
Relentlessness might be the highest asset Allen possesses. He by no means offers up on a play and since he doesn’t have an elite athletic profile, he has to depend on “motor” and hustle to make influence performs—significantly when speeding the passer.
Additionally, his play recognition expertise are fairly stable. When you watch a few of the large performs he’s made, you’ll see him make the right learn on RPOs, know when he’s stymied and desires to leap to bat down a cross and different optimistic performs. This excessive soccer IQ is unquestionably one thing Lou Anarumo covets out of his linemen.
While inside defensive linemen with pass-rush potential are beginning to receives a commission a premium in right this moment’s NFL, Allen may very well be a productive addition on a somewhat-manageable contract. He’ll receives a commission effectively, little question, however the feeling is that the pay can be commensurate with the power and future manufacturing.
And, after all, Allen’s versatility alongside the road is a helpful asset. He has proven to make performs off the sting, even when the athletic traits don’t level to a excessive achiever there, whereas additionally offering pass-rush and pass-defense talents inside.
Did we point out the athletic traits? Here’s his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) as each a defensive finish and defensive sort out:
While Allen may very well be a superb asset to the Bengals’ proficient entrance, simply what number of snaps would he get straight away? If he’s pitched a task with a excessive quantity of snaps, however it’s not one as a starter—a task wherein he held with Arizona—would he balk at it?
And, sadly, Allen has had a little bit of an harm historical past. As a professional, Allen has missed 21 video games in 4 seasons, with the majority (12) coming as a rookie. Still, he hasn’t performed a full season, neither 16 nor 17 video games, in his skilled profession and that’s a priority.
If Allen had been to take a somewhat-lucrative cope with a championship-caliber crew for a task that’s each high-profile and labeled as a “heavy rotator”, this may very well be a superb get for Cincinnati. To use different sport similes, Allen could be an ideal “utility player” or “sixth man” on Anarumo’s protection.
Cincinnati wants high quality snaps that garner pass-rush in eventualities that relieve Hendrickson and Hubbard from the quantity they’ve amassed since Ogunjobi’s 2021 Wild Card harm, in addition to teaming with Hill inside to have an effect. Allen can present that and is showing to hit his skilled stride.
Pieces have to suit and Allen might need to be a man who falls by way of the primary wave of free company. True 3-technique inside linemen could garner extra consideration than the Swiss Army knife Allen, however he brings useful instruments to a protection.