The Redskins got one of the biggest steals of the first round of the NFL draft when Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen fell to them at pick No. 17 of the first round.
Allen was coveted by the Redskins for several reasons. The defensive line is their biggest area of need. They lost Chris Baker in free agency and although they signed free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain they still were in need of both youth and a bell cow on the line.
Allen provides both. He is an asset rushing the passer (10.5 sacks last year) and against the run (16 tackles for a loss). He surprised many by staying with the Crimson Tide for his senior year and he benefitted by being able to refine his technique and hone up on his fundamentals. The Ashburn native is strong and athletic and uses his hands well.
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He becomes the first defensive player taken in the first round by the Redskins since they drafted outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in 2011. They have not drafted a defensive lineman in the first since they took Kennard Lang back in 1997.
Allen slid in the draft over concerns over his shoulders, both of which have been surgically repaired. On a conference call he told reporters that he was cleared by all of the teams that examined him, but there must have been some lingering uneasiness. Otherwise such a talented player would not have fallen at least a dozen picks below where the consensus said he should have gone.
Allen will have a short drive from his home to rookie camp in two weeks. He went to Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, about 10 minutes from Redskins Park.