Will Jaguars rookie Josh Allen have a breakout season?
By David Levin
Former NFL great Willie McGinest believes Jaguars rookie pass rusher Josh Allen will have a breakout season in his first year in the league.
For New England Patriots pass rusher Willie McGinest knows a thing or two, possibly even three, about sacking the quarterback. As a mainstay for the Patriots at the beginning on their Super Bowl run, he was a catalyst on defense. McGinest believes Jaguars rookie edge rusher Josh Allen can be another catalyst on Jacksonville’s defense this coming season.
Allen, the seventh pick in the NFL Draft this past April, is one of four pass rushers whom McGinest thinks will have a breakout season in 2019.
McGinest, now an analyst for NFL.com, believes the rookie from Kentucky will flourish in the Jaguars system, grabbing 10 sacks in his first year in Black and Teal.
"“He was my top pass rusher in this year’s draft class, so the Jaguars got a major steal when he dropped to seventh overall. Allen (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) compares to players like Houston’s Whitney Mercilus, who also entered the league as a big, versatile prospect, as a disruptive force coming off the edge,” McGinest writes."
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It was a bit if a surprise that Allen, who can play with his hand on the ground or outside off the edge standing up, fell. It was a blessing for the Jaguars, a team had plenty of needs on the offensive side of the ball but still needed to add depth at the defensive end position. As luck would have it, the Jaguars grabbed the 2018 SEC Defensive Player of the Year up and expects big things from the team’s newest pass rusher.
"“The rookie has tremendous speed off the ball and found success with several pass rush moves at Kentucky,” McGinest added. “The rip — one of the most commonly used pass rushing techniques — is his go-to move, but he’ll need to further develop his repertoire by learning other ways to use his hands and length if he wants to get to the quarterback on a regular basis at this level.”"
Just the thought of Allen being part of a rotation that features Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue should strike more fear in opposing offensive linemen. If two pass rushers of that caliber are good, then three is even better.
The Jaguars will have Allen back in training camp after he was held out of the final nine OTAs practices and mandatory minicamp for a bruised knee. Head coach Doug Marrone said the team did not want to rush the rookie back, that the injury was minor and nothing to worry about.
Allen could also provide insurance for Todd Wash’s unit if Ngakoue remains out of camp because of his current contract situation.
"“Ngakoue skipped mandatory minicamp earlier this month in hopes of getting a new contract, so Allen could find himself being a Day 1 starter if Ngakoue and the Jags can’t agree on a deal soon. I expect Allen to be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation, whether he is a starter or part of the rotation,” said McGinest.“One thing that could inhibit the rookie, who worked through a minor knee injury this offseason, from having double-digit sacks in Year 1 — and I can speak about this firsthand — is that he could be asked to drop into coverage against tight ends or running backs, because of his athletic ability. Still, whether he’s getting to the quarterback or plastering pass catchers, Allen is set up for success.”"
Allen wasn’t the only rookie to make the top-five list compiled by McGinest. He also believes Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver could thrive with his new team.