No offense to Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa, who have been on top of most draft boards out there, but Kentucky’s Josh Allen is the best player in the NFL Draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in “win now” mode and have a perfect opportunity to leave the 2019 NFL Draft with the best prospect, who fills a position of need to top it off.
The legacy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise has been their stellar defense, but that seems like ancient history at this point. Luckily, the 2019 NFL Draft can change that quickly with one of the most talented defensive classes in recent memory.
Josh Allen had a monster senior season for the Wildcats. Allen finished the year with 88 total tackles, a whopping 21.5 tackles for loss, and 17 sacks in 13 games. He was the leader of Kentucky’s first ten-win season since 1977. Kentucky is known for their prestigious basketball program, not football, and they went 5-3 against the biggest powerhouse conference in all of college football. Allen was the biggest reason why.
While guys like Williams and Bosa played on teams that get flooded with 5-star talent and future NFL players, Allen was THE guy for Kentucky. Opponents lining up against Alabama or Ohio State, can’t spend the whole game double/triple teaming individual players because there are just as talented players all across the field.
Williams didn’t receive a chance at starting until this past season because of how deep Alabama is every year with their top recruiting classes. Playing next to guys like Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs, for example, can allow Williams to get single match ups. Same applies for Bosa who has had highly drafted defensive backs holding their own, and guys like Dre’mont Jones and Sam Hubbard (last year) on the defensive line as well.
For Allen, every opponent knew they had to have a game plan for him solely to have a chance to win. Their only goal was “don’t let #41 beat us”. Allen still was a major factor every snap because he isn’t your normal defensive player. Most notably, Allen is an elite pass rusher, but he can also cover downfield and plays the run extremely well. Allen can realistically succeed playing outside linebacker, in the middle off the ball, and as a defensive end. He is the ultimate chess piece, which is why I call Allen “The Derwin James of the front seven.”
You put on the film against Texas A&M, Florida, and the Citrus Bowl against Penn State and it’s a one-man wrecking crew on defense. His speed and bend are at an elite level. As a pass rusher, he is right there with Bosa at the top of this class. He excels against the run, evident in his 21.5 TFL (2 more than Williams). In coverage, he has shown the ability to drop back in a zone and read the QB as well as playing man coverage against tight ends like All-American Jace Sternberger.
According to PFF, Allen was in coverage on 141 snaps while only allowing 13 receptions. He had three pass breakups and zero touchdowns allowed. If you rank Bosa as the top prospect because of his pass rush skills or Williams because he causes havoc in the backfield, that’s valid, but how about having a player who has shown he can do both and surpass them with his coverage ability. Allen has shown he can excel in those areas just as good as them (if not better), as well as the added coverage dynamic.
In a pass happy league, more emphasis has been placed on finding better cover safeties and linebackers. There is no doubt in my mind that Josh Allen is the best prospect in this draft when you combine all his traits, along with what NFL defensive coordinators are asking of their players to do to offset these high powered offenses. The Buccaneers need a dynamic playmaker on that defense. Allen can be the one to help restore a proud and historical defensive culture to Tampa Bay.