ASHBURN | As one offensive player after the next went off the board Thursday night, it became clear that the NFL Draft’s first round was shaping up in the Redskins’ favor. All they needed to complete their dream scenario was a feel-good angle, and they got it.
With the No. 17 overall pick in the 2017 draft, the Redskins selected Jonathan Allen, a Virginia-bred defensive lineman who was a stalwart of Alabama’s transcendent defenses and can provide immediate help.
In college he won the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Award as nation’s top defensive player in Alabama’s exceptional defense. He made 96 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and led the Crimson Tide with 10.5 sacks.
He was first-team All-SEC for the second year in a row, after finishing second in the conference with 12 sacks as a junior.
Some projections had Allen going inside the top 5, but medical concerns seemed to push him down the board. Allen needed surgery in both his shoulders to repair with labral tears and still has moderate shoulder arthritis.
At the NFL scouting combine, Allen said that, if he ever is impacted by the problem, it will be 15-20 years down the line. Still, the fact that he fell to No. 17 shows that teams were worried.
“Not at all, not at all, the shoulder feels good. Every doctor said if there’s a problem, it’s after football, way after football. I have no concerns with it at all,” he said.
Washington is neediest on defense, where the Redskins ranked No. 28 in total yards last season, and seven of the top-10 players selected were offensive playmakers. Three quarterbacks were off the board by the time No. 17 rolled around.
Allen is the first defensive player the Redskins have chosen in the first round since 2011, when they took two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Now, Kerrigan and Allen will be going after opposing quarterbacks together.
With the way the first round played out, the Redskins could have chosen multiple players who they might not have thought would be available to them at No. 17. When the Redskins chose, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and FSU running back Dalvin Cook were still available.
The question with Allen will be whether or not his size, 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, will work in the NFL and, as has been the case with Alabama defensive players lately, whether or not his college production was a product simply of his talents or the excellent players around him.
Allen can play outside and move inside in sub-packages, is technically proficient with good hands, and could help the Redskins against both the run and the pass.
Allen, who went to Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., was the 2012 Virginia Gatorade High School Player of the Year. Oh, and he was a Redskins fan.
“I did root for the Redskins growing up, that was the team I liked,” Allen said at the combine.
It’s possible that Allen’s medical report scared other teams off but the Redskins were apparently comfortable enough with his health to make the pick, which looks like a picture-perfect steal.
With the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Cleveland Browns went with a sure thing in Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.
The league’s annual quarterback craziness started just after, however.
The 49ers flipped picks with the Bears, allowing the Bears to move up to No. 2 from No. 3 overall to draft Mitchell Trubisky, the quarterback out of North Carolina.
In the trade, the Bears gave up the No. 67 and No. 111 picks in this year’s draft, as well as next year’s third-round pick. The 49ers took defensive end Solomon Thomas, reportedly the player they wanted all along, with the No. 3 pick.
Because of the volume of picks used to move up only one spot, the likelihood is that the Bears felt they had competition to move into the 49ers’ slot and take Trubisky.
Eight picks later, the Bills traded the No. 10 pick to the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected Patrick Mahomes III, who played at Texas Tech. Buffalo also received a large draft haul in the deal — No. 27 and No. 91 this year, and a 2018 first-rounder.
This year’s draft class was viewed as stacked on the defensive side of the ball, but quarterbacks and offense dominated the list of top picks.
After Thomas at No. 3, the Jacksonville Jaguars took running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4. For the second-straight year, a running back went fourth-overall after Dallas selected Ezekiel Elliott in that slot last year.
The Titans picked wide receiver Corey Davis at No. 5. Davis, who played at Western Michigan, became the highest-drafted wide receiver in Mid-American Conference history.
The 6-foot-3-inch Davis had 5,285 career yards receiving.
Safety Jamal Adams went at No. 6 to the Jets, then four more players were taken on the offensive side of the ball.
The Los Angeles Chargers took Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams at No. 7, the Carolina Panthers took running back Christian McCaffrey at No. 8, the Bengals took wide receiver John Ross at No. 9, and then the Chiefs traded up for Mahomes.
McCaffrey, at 202 pounds, had an NCAA record 3,864 all-purpose yards at Stanford last season.
All in all, seven of the first 10 picks were offensive players. In the end, the top of the draft was still defined by the strength of this defensive class, just not how everyone expected: because of the volume of players available, the best offensive players went off the board first.
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