Cardinals select DE Zach Allen in 3rd round of 2019 NFL Draft
The Arizona Cardinals selected Boston College pass-rusher Zach Allen to lead off the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-4, 281-pound Allen recorded 61 tackles, 6.5 sacks and an interception as a senior last season. He also added seven passes defensed, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries with 15 tackles for loss.
“Every snap you turn on, he is chasing the football,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He plays his tail off every snap, and it’s a credit to just how he approaches the game. And that’s how he came across in the interview and through the draft process as one of those guys you want on your team, that’s he’s going to will himself into being a really good football player.”
The Cardinals began the draft at the top by selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. They were done on Thursday from there but started Friday with the pick of Washington cornerback Byron Murphy at No. 33. They picked again in the second round after trading quarterback Josh Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for the 62nd pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick. With that selection, Arizona took wide receiver Andy Isabella out of UMass.
“Zach Allen … was one of the players that I may have been most fond of during the evaluation process,” GM Steve Keim said. “This guy plays like his hair’s on fire, he’s relentless, he does different things from a pass-rusher standpoint that a lot of defensive ends and five techniques don’t do. So he’s a guy that not only brings the character that we’re looking for, but he brings the toughness and intensity that we’re looking for.”
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein described Allen’s strengths as football IQ, good initial burst and NFL-caliber strength at the point of attack. One of the weaknesses was relying on effort over athleticism.
“He’s also one of those guys that maybe the way he tested athletically doesn’t really tell you what he is on the field like when you watch him on tape. He’s so talented with his hands and is a much better athlete than I think most people anticipate,” Keim said.
“They’re just going to get a versatile and very strong, athletic player,” Allen said. “Playing on the inside I can guard with speed and power, and playing on the outside, kind of do the same thing. And just play across that line. I feel like I have some pretty good technique right now. Obviously stuff has to improve, but just really excited to continue to learn and improve.”
The Cardinals are expected to go back to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, switching from the 4-3 that ousted head coach Steve Wilks ran last year.
“They said that five-technique in that 3-4. So I’m very comfortable with that. I played a lot of it in college,” Allen said. “And I’m just very excited to hopefully help the team and contribute there. But in college I played a lot of positions, and whatever they need me to play, gain weight, lose weight, whatever it be, special teams, sell popcorn, I’m willing to do it.”
Barring further trades, Arizona has seven picks left to make on Saturday, kicking off rounds four, five and six, with an extra selection in the sixth round and three total in the seventh.