With news coming out that Allen Bailey will visit the Buccaneers, I thought it'd be interesting to look at this physically talented, highly touted but underachieving prospect. I think I just summed him up in one sentence. Article done, move on.
What, that isn't good enough? Okay then, I'll take a closer look at him. The first thing that stands out when looking at Allen Bailey is his athleticism. The man is huge at 6'4", 288lbs, and he's built like a truck. He has long arms, he's fast and has all the physical tools he needs to at least become a dominant left end. The second thing is his really slow snap reaction, he's consistently the last person off the line. I don't really know if that sort of thing is correctable, but it puts him at a tremendous disadvantage although his speed and explosion mitigate that. The third thing that stands out his tremendous power, and how bad he is at using it. Bailey is a power rusher first and foremost, but his hand use is terrible and a good offensive tackles will be able to handle him pretty easily. He's not entirely a one-trick pony as he can bend and get around the edge, but he rarely does so and it doesn't seem like a natural part of his repertoire. His one-sided approach to the game shows in his lackluster statistics as well, with just 19 sacks in his last 3 seasons.
So is it all negative for Bailey? Absolutely not. While Bailey is mostly athleticism and very little skill right now, he is ridiculously talented. In addition to being talented, he's a hard worker. Every scouting report I've read praises his work ethic off the field, and on the field he's constantly hustling towards the ball. He also does a good job of keeping low and playing with good leverage despite his length. His lack of production and technique can be explained by the way Miami used him. He was constantly moved around, from left end to defensive tackle to right end - he's played every position on the line. This speaks to his versatility, but it also means he hasn't developed at one position. The constant moving hindered his development.
Physically he reminds me of Michael Strahan, and if he can develop his skills and moves in the NFL with attentive coaching he could become a very good defensive end. The problem is that right now he's just too raw to be considered anything but an athlete, and it's anyone's guess whether he can develop those skills in the future. It's quite possible he'll be the type of player that never fulfills his promise.
Not all scouting sites agree with my assessment, though. Mocking the Draft loves Allen Bailey, praises his athleticism and potential and glosses over his technique issues and lack of production. They think he'll be a dominant player once taught the proper techniques to play, and is already a very good player against the run. I don't really agree with that as his instincts are lacking and he doesn''t do a great job getting off blocks, but he does have the talent to do so.
The National Football Post, on the other hand, sees him as a backup player only. They see him as an inconsistent player with poor technique who is unlikely to overcome those issues. While he's physically talented, they think he'll be a jack of all trades, and a master of none. It's interesting that they project him as a 3-technique defensive tackle, while most see him as a defensive end in some form.
Ultimately I think the truth on Bailey likely lies closer to Mocking the Draft's analysis than the Post's. He has all the physical talents to do well at the pro level, and if he can develop his skills he'll be a very good player. The problem is that this will take a while, and it will require a very good coach who focuses in technique. That does mean the Bucs are a good fit though, who have brought on coaches that are very good at teaching technique and fundamentals because of their young roster. Unfortunately the Bucs also need a starting end immediately, and not in two years, and Bailey doesn't seem like a good fit at right end either. Ultimately Bailey shouldn't be targeted by the Bucs for the first pick in the draft, as he's too raw for that and better players can be had at that point. But if he slips to the Bucs' second round pick they'll have to think long and hard about selecting him.