By LARRY VAUGHT
He didn’t go in the top five picks like most mock drafts had him projected but Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen still went seventh to Jacksonville in Thursday’s NFL draft.
CBS Sports gave the Jaguars an A for their selection.
“The Jaguars didn’t think he would be here. They thought he would go at 3 or 4 or 5. I love this pick. Their identity is defense. I like this pick, they could have went in a different direction, but he fell to them and they took him,” Pete Prisco wrote about the pick of Allen, the 2019 consensus national defensive player of the year.
Jacksonville had several more pressing needs on offense — tackle and tight end — but knew it could not pass on Allen.
“Too good a player to possibly pass up,” Jags executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, a former NFL head coach, said. “Can’t have enough of them.”
Calais Campbell led Jacksonville with 10.5 sacks in 2018 but he is 32. Allen could combine with Yannick Ngakoue and Campbell to give the Jaguars the best pass rush in football and make a good defense even better.
“He’s outstanding athletically. He drops in coverage. He rushes the passer,” Coughlin said. “He’s a good ball-stripper. He gives good effort. You see him work sideline to sideline.
“Outstanding young man and a guy who will definitely help our defensive football team.”
Allen is also durable. He didn’t miss a game in four years at Kentucky and had 41 career tackles for loss, 31.5 quarterback sacks and 11 forced fumbles.
“It’s a big man’s game, and he’s a big man that has speed, that can come around the edge, that has power that can hold the point,” coach Doug Marrone said. “When you look the film, it stands out. It’s like, ‘Who’s that guy?'”
The Jaguars traded Dante Fowler to the Los Angeles Rams last year and that’s a role Allen could fill this season.
“In our division, when you play Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota and in the conference where you have some great quarterbacks, you have to be able to get after them,” Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell said. “Between Yannick and him and Calais (Campbell) and Marcell (Dareus), it’s going to be a fun season.”
Jacksonville star cornerback Jalen Ramsey shared a tweet after Allen’s pick where he told Allen two weeks ago he was the best player in the draft, a feeling Allen and UK coaches had been trying to convey to NFL coaches the last three months.