The Jaguars used the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select defensive end Josh Allen out of the University of Kentucky Thursday evening in Nashville, TN. Allen was one of the team’s top five targeted players to draft.
“It means a lot. I am about to go to an organization that really strives to sack the quarterback. That’s what I love to do,” Allen told reporters on a conference call.
Allen considered entering the draft in 2018 but he decided to stay in school instead. He is relieved he made that decision.
“I think about it every day. I would have never been in this situation last year,” he explained. “I decided I am glad I came back to further myself as a person and as a player, as well. I’m just really thankful that I came back and everybody that helped me during this process; I’m forever grateful.”
Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin described Allen (6-5, 262) as an athletic player who can drop in coverage and who rushes the passer. He also referred to Allen as a player who gets on the edge and who has some opportunity for refinement at the professional level. Early indications are that Allen is self-confident too.
“We talked openly on his visit here. We had a real fine visit with him and kidded him of where he was going to go and he said, ‘Well maybe you will have to trade up to get me’ I just reminded him of that one,” Coughlin shared with reporters.“Outstanding young man. A guy who will definitely help our defensive football team and hopefully will continue to get stronger and better on that side of the ball. We have a bunch of picks to work on the rest of the draft.”
There was speculation heading into the draft that the Jaguars would try to bolster their offense by choosing a player such as tight end T.J.Hockenson who was taken by the Detroit Lions with the eighth overall pick. Jaguars’ personnel said all along they would draft the best player available and Coughlin said Allen was too good of a player to pass up.
“He [T.J. Hockenson] was very close up where we were, and they were both were very close, but Allen was a higher thought of player,” Coughlin admitted.
Allen, a Montclair, NJ native, did not miss a game in his four-year career at Kentucky. He played in all 51 games with 35 starts. He totaled 224 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, two FFs and eight passes defensed. During the 2018 season he had a team-high 88 tackles and 17.0 sacks while earning consensus first team All-American honors, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, presented to the country’s top defensive player.
“That was certainly part of it, his ability to play over the course of the entire football game and continue to pressure the passer, even though late in the game – like I said, his ability to rush on either side, his ability to drop and his athleticism, as demonstrated by the combine, etc. as well. A very impressive young man and football player.”
““I have never met him. I have been following him on Instagram. I am a huge fan of him. I have been watching him ever since Maryland. I’m a big fan, but now I am about to be a big teammate to him,” Allen said. “We’re trying to win Super Bowls. I know he is. I know I am. We’re trying to be great.”Allen did hear from Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, whose fifth-year option was exercised on Draft Day. The fourth-year Pro Bowler CB is now under contract with the Jaguars through the 2020 season.
“When he messaged me, it was like a dream come true. I looked up to this dude. Now, it’s like I am his teammate. Now it is more fuel to my fire,” Allen added. “Now I have to prove him why I’m the best player in the draft. Plus, I have to earn the respect of him. I am coming in ready to work, ready to work and ready to keep the culture going. That is the type of MO I’m bringing and [I’m going to] earn the respect of my peers.”
Allen’s work ethic will certainly fit in nicely with the hardworking Jaguars defensive unit.