After the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draftthe Denver Broncos started to sign multiple undrafted free agents to add to their roster. One of the players the Broncos targeted and ended up signing was former Alabama edge rusher, Christopher Allen.
Allen is a 6’3”, 241-pound linebacker who played his college ball at Alabama. He has played a total of four seasons at Bama and earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2021 because of his high-level play from him. During his four seasons at Alabama, Allen totaled 54 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. This past season, his senior season was cut short after he suffered a broken foot and ended up missing the rest of the season. So, let us look at his breakout 2020 season where he earned second-team All-SEC. In 2020, Allen totaled 37 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
#Alabama DE/LB Christopher Allen, who missed the 2021 season and most of the pre-draft process w/ a fractured foot, worked out for NFL teams yesterday:
10’2″ broad jump
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 14, 2022
Now, he joins a Broncos roster that is fairly deep at the edge-rushing position, but injuries will give him a shot to show what he can do. Former top-five selection Bradley Chubb will likely be eased back into action, free-agent signee Randy Gregory is recovering from an offseason surgery, and now 2021 seventh-round selection Jonathon Cooper will be out until Training Camp because of a finger injury. So, Allen will get his reps and the opportunity to impress Broncos coaches and potentially earn himself a roster spot.
Christopher Allen | Edge Rusher | rookie
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 241 pounds | 40-time: 4.77 seconds
Arm Length: 33” | hands: 10”
How Christopher Allen fits with the Broncos
I think the Broncos may have got themselves a steal here in Christopher Allen.
He was coming off a solid 2021 season where he earned second-team All-SEC honors and was on a pretty talented Alabama squad. He was a starter for them at edge rusher and potentially could have improved on his 2021 season by having a breakout senior campaign. If he did that, we’re looking at a day two prospect here in Allen. Unfortunately, a foot injury ruined that for Allen and now he’s fighting for a roster spot with the Broncos.
Like many players on the roster bubble, he will need to make a living on special teams to make the team. The coaches have put an emphasis on this role this season and your back end of the roster will be full of players who contribute on special teams. With that said, I think Allen can show enough as a pass rusher during camp and the preseason to force the Broncos’ hand regardless of his specials team’s play.
Pat Surtain said Chris Allen is “Very dynamic” and a “great rusher.”
“He brings a tremendous amount of talent to the defensive side of the ball”
— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) May 26, 2022
Allen does face stiff competition at the edge-rushing position to make the roster. Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Nik Bonitto, and Baron Browning are likely locked into a roster spot. That leaves Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper, Allen, Aaron Patrick, and Jonathan Kongbo fighting for one or two spots on the active roster.
If Allen were to emerge, I think Malik Reed makes the most sense to be traded from this group. He’s the only one who would get anything back in return, and he’s a holdover from the Elway/Fangio regime while Cooper and the rest were all brought in under Paton.
So, it won’t be easy for Allen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he indeed makes a significant push for a roster spot.
What analysts are saying about Allen
The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler from his annual draft guide. He had a fourth-round grade on Broncos edge rusher Christopher Allen.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Alabama, Allen played strongside linebacker in head coach Nick Saban’s hyprid 3-4 scheme, standing up on the edge and putting his hand on the ground on third downs. After leading the SEC in tackles for loss in 2020, he was poised for a breakout season in 2021 but played only 10 snaps in the opener before a foot injury sidelined him for the year (looked impressive in those 10 snaps vs. Miami (Fla. ) with three tackles and a strip sack). Allen plays with excellent play strength and hand violence to stay detached from blockers in the run game and as a pass rusher. He needs to become better schooled with the art of pass rush, but he displays the natural twitch and upfield attack skills worth developing. Overall, Allen has some tweener traits, and the medicals are obviously a red flag, but he could wind up being a steal as the forgotten prospect in a loaded edge rusher class. He projects as a rotational NFL pass rusher with upside to be more.
NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlien on Broncos edge rusher Christopher Allen
Two injuries robbed Allan of valuable game experience and dulled some of his development. He’s a physical specimen with the strength to hold his own at the point and rid himself of single blocks with twitch and technique. However, he often seems lost in terms of play recognition and what he needs to do to get in on a play. He has some upfield rush charge but isn’t a natural bend-and-trim rusher, so building out a more thoughtful, diversified attack is a must. Allen has the traits to play edge in odd or even fronts but additional development is critical if he wants to become more than just a quality rotational defender.
Christopher Allen’s RAS score
If an undrafted free agent cracks the Broncos’ 53-man roster, it will be Christopher Allen. He’s a talented player who fell because of injuries and someone who could contribute right away if needed. I fully expect him to be a standout on the second and third-team defenses throughout camp and be a defensive playmaker in the preseason as well.
He is a little bit undersized, so he will need to show he can handle the size and strength of NFL offensive lineman, but he did well against the best of the SEC. Also, he has some injury concerns as well, so if he wants to make the team, he will need to show he can stay healthy as well.
As I mentioned above, the depth at edge rusher on the Broncos roster will make it tough for Allen to crack the roster. He’ll be competing against Malik Reed who has appeared in 45 games the past three seasons for the Broncos and Jonathon Cooper who appeared in 16 games last season for the Broncos as well. So, he will really need to impress if he wants to unseat one of these players for a roster spot. Then, you have Baron Browning who is transitioning to edge rusher as well as another player who is likely locked into a roster spot as well who could keep Allen from a roster spot. So, it won’t be easy for Allen.
With all that said, he did receive the highest signing bonus of all the Broncos UDFA’s so that could be a sign that Allen factors into the future plans of the Broncos.