Yes, Allen played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense at Kentucky and the Jaguars use a 4-3, but he was just too talented to pass up. Executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, GM Dave Caldwell, and coach Doug Marrone were confident that defensive coordinator Todd Wash and senior defensive assistant Dom Capers would figure it out.
The early answer is: They’ll have Allen do a bit of everything.
“I think as far as position, you see a lot of people are saying outside linebacker and he put his hands in the ground on third down and when he rushes the quarterback,” Marrone said. “For us, we will get him on the field [and] we will put him in the best positions to give us the best opportunity to stop the run and get after the quarterback.”
That’s just what Allen wanted to hear. Though he was regarded as one of the best pass-rushers in the draft (17 sacks last season helped him earn SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors), the 6-foot-5, 262-pounder is adamant that he can do more. He can play the run as well as drop into coverage, and that versatility means he can make an even bigger impact in 2019 than if he were just a pass-rush specialist.
“I would rather go to a team that needs me, rather than a team that just thinks I am the best player,” Allen said. “I feel like I can fit in this scheme. I feel like I can contribute a lot with my talents. I feel like they can use my talents. They know what I do best and they want to utilize that.
“A lot of teams wanted me as a one-trick pony and I feel like I always strive to be great, but it would be hard because [being a one-trick pony] is not what I do. I feel like Jacksonville will let me do what I want to do and they want to utilize my talents.”
Allen will definitely be on the field in the Jaguars’ rush package -- he and Yannick Ngakoue will be the ends, with Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus inside -- but Caldwell also said he’ll spell Ngakoue on some first and second downs. The Jaguars have occasionally dropped Ngakoue in coverage and will do the same with Allen, who said he did that pretty regularly with the Wildcats.
Allen had one interception, seven forced fumbles, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries over the past two seasons, to go along with 24 sacks.
“First of all, I just want to say I also can stop the run,” Allen said. “That comes with the job. I have to do that to be able to pass rush. I feel I can do that, but dropping into coverage -- I dropped half the season, as well. I had a lot of productive plays in space, so I am comfortable doing that. I can read offenses. I know coverages. I know what is behind me. I know what is in front of me. I know my zones. I know how to play man. I know enough to stop a lot of people.
“Hopefully, if they want me to drop a lot in this scheme, I will do whatever it takes. Sacks. I am trying to be great. I have a lot of great players with me. That is going to open a lot of doors for me to do what I do. When I do what I do, that can open a lot of doors for Yannick to do what he does and Calais and Marcell Dareus. We are going to have a fun group. Hopefully bring Sacksonville 2.0.”