2019 NFL Draft Profile: Fresno State LB Jeffrey Allison
Can the former Bulldog and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year make an impact in the NFL?
Allison left his mark on a storied program.
Middle linebackers from the Mountain West have become all the rage in the NFL these days. Granted, the entirety of that trend is owed to the sensational play of former Boise State star Leighton Vander Esch, but it does make one wonder what those who follow in his footsteps can do at the next level.
Enter Jeffrey Allison, who helped key Fresno State football’s unexpected resurrection by anchoring one of the Group of 5’s best defenses over the last two years. Like Vander Esch, Allison’s efforts were enough to earn the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year honor but, unlike the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 first-round selection, he doesn’t have quite the same physical tangibles.
Will a reputation for hard hitting and run stuffing be enough to cement Allison a role in the NFL?
Measurables (via Mockdraftable)
Allison has received high marks for his football intelligence and willingness to mix things up in the box. Draft writers have presented divergent opinions on his ability to act on misdirection, but they all agree that he can lay serious hits on an unsuspecting ball carrier.
In an increasingly pass-heavy league, multiple observers have noted that Allison may not have all of the physical tools for consistent success in coverage. Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network, for instance, wrote that Allison “IDs concepts well, [but] just lacks the athletic ability to do much about it” while Lance Zierlein of NFL.com mentioned average pursuit speed.
Allison’s strength as a tackler may fizzle out, too, if he can’t refine his ability to rush the passer. Ledyard’s report seems to suggest that his natural strength will only get him so far at the next level and with only 2.5 sacks on his overall college ledger, Allison will need to work at ways to supplement and eventually maximize that physicality and intelligence.
It may be possible that Allison falls out of the draft if teams prioritize deep wells of talent elsewhere on defense, but it seems more likely he will find a landing spot sometime in the middle of Day Three.