JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars went for pass rush help with their first-round pick on Thursday night, picking edge rusher Josh Allen out of Kentucky.
Allen is a hybrid player who can play linebacker or on the defensive line. He returned to college for his senior season and bolstered his draft stock significantly, earning first-team All-American honors after recording 17 sacks and forcing five fumbles. That sack total was the highest in the SEC since the NCAA began recording sack records in 2000.
Allen debated on going pro last season, but said he's glad that he made the decision to return to college. A big reason for his return? That would be Allen's son, Wesley, who was born Jan. 3, 2018.
“I did, I actually did [debate going pro as a junior]," Allen said. "If I didn’t have my son, I probably would have come out early," he said. "My son was born, we had him, and I had to come back. I had to become a better person, I had to become a better man – a football player on top of that. I’m so glad he came. He is a blessing in disguise, and I thank him every day.”
It's Wesley's father's ability to get to the quarterback that's just what the Jaguars need in an AFC South packed with top-tier arms.
“In our division, when you play Andrew Luck and you play Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota, and in the conference where you’ve got great quarterbacks, you have to be able to get after them,” said Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell. “Between Yannick [Ngakoue] and him and Calais [Campbell] and Marcell [Dareus], it’s going to be a fun season.”
Allen joins a Jaguars defensive front that should be able to get to the quarterback as well as any other team in the AFC South.
Calling Allen a player who can do a little bit of everything, Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin said the team was thrilled when he slipped to them.
“In most of the scenarios we put together, the hypothetical issues, he was gone," Coughlin said.
That he fell to the Jaguars was surprising. Most mock drafts had Allen off the board before No. 7, but the pieces started aligning when the Raiders made their choice.
With the New York Jets — another Allen landing spot in many mocks — taking Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at No. 3, that put Oakland in a spot to nab Allen.
The Raiders surprised many when they drafted Clemson defensive tackle Clelin Ferrell at No. 4. The Buccaneers grabbed LSU linebacker Devin White and the New York Giants went quarterback, drafting Duke’s Daniel Jones. That set the table for the Jaguars to bolster their pass rush with Allen.
"He’s outstanding athletically, he drops in coverage, he rushes the passer," Coughlin said.
It was the seventh first-round pick for general manager Dave Caldwell. He said the team looked at Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the No. 7 pick, but Allen
Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (second in 2013), quarterback Blake Bortles (third in 2014), defensive end Dante Fowler (third in 2015), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (fifth in 2016), running back Leonard Fournette (fourth in 2017) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (29th last year) were Caldwell’s other first-rounders.
Three of those — Bortles, Fowler and Joeckel — are no longer with the Jaguars. Ramsey is a two-time Pro Bowler. Fournette is trying to rebound from a rough second season, and Bryan was a non-factor as a rookie.
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