Months of speculation and intrigue culminated with an action-filled evening as the NFL held its 2017 draft.
Up until 2014, the draft took place in early to mid-April. Now, it takes place smack dab in the middle of the NBA and NHL playoffs, a virtual f-u from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The actual draft is pretty blasé – static camera shots of a podium interspersed with a litany of talking heads. Regardless, I was at a bar and 95% of the patrons were riveted to draft – even though playoff hockey was on the center TV (Spurs/Grizzlies got squeezed out).
The anticipation only grew as the draft neared the 17th pick, held by the Washington Redskins.
If you ever doubted that offense rules the thinking of front offices, these days, just look at how the top 15 picks played out. Eight teams pulled the trigger on an offensive player.
As skill player after skill player tumbled off the board, simple math dictated that the Redskins would have a bevy of defensive studs available.
You don’t need me to tell you how bad their defense was last year. It ranged from bad to God-awful. They need help across the board, so drafting a defender seemed the obvious and prudent choice.
And, yet, sphincters were tight as the Redskins went on the clock. This is a fan-base that has been kicked in the teeth too many times in recent memory. Thus, there is a paternal-instinct that kicks in.
Please don’t screw this up.
When Jonathan Allen’s name popped up on the screen, it was greeted equal parts cheer and sigh of relief.
Graded as a top-five talent, Allen’s stock dropped, due to concerns about his often-injured shoulder. Those concerns may eventually come to fruition, but his package of speed and power was too good for them to pass up.
Scouts listed Allen’s size as a concern, as he gets set to play against bigger and badder competition in the pro game. However, Allen went to college at a certain football factory down in Tuscaloosa, where you don’t see the field if you haven’t learned the intricacies of the position.
He had an extra year of preparation, opting to return for his senior season though he would have been a likely first-round candidate last year as well.
Allen says he models his game after Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins – who was also hit with the undersized label coming out of college. All Atkins has done as a pro is produce 52 total sacks make five Pro Bowls.
As for Allen, he interviews well and seems to have a good head on his hopefully-healthy shoulders. Throw in his Northern Virginia roots (he attended Stonebridge High School in Ashburn) and the whole thing almost seems too good to be true.
He will be thrown into a mix that presently includes last year’s draftee, Matt Ioannidis as well as free-agent signings Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee.
Next year’s defense will likely feature a rotation of those guys around nose tackle Ziggy Hood. Allen is versatile enough to guard against both the run and the pass, which will help him stay on the field.
It’s the first step towards building depth around a coveted position. Kudos to the Redskins for pouncing when they had the chance.