1. Jaguars 1st round pick in 2019, 7th overall – Josh Allen, OLB.
Trevor Lawrence may end up having the better career down the road and quarterbacks have a bigger impact than pass rushers but outside linebacker Josh Allen claims the top spot in this ranking because he’s already made the Pro Bowl and has played at a dominant level at times. In fact, you could make the case that the Kentucky product was the Jags’ best defensive player last year even though the bar wasn’t particularly high.
Allen had a productive rookie campaign, posting 10.5 sacks and making the Pro Bowl. However, he was also playing in a defensive line that included Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Without them, Allen struggled to make an impact in 2020, posting a measly 2.5 sacks. Of course, context is necessary and he wasn’t himself due to a knee injury that forced him to miss eight games.
Once Allen put injuries behind him, he was able to return to form in 2021. He had a monster game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 and made a key stop in the Jaguars’ first win of the season against the Miami Dolphins. However, he faded down the stretch and wasn’t as productive as he was early in the year.
Allen is entering the fourth year of his rookie campaign and while the Jaguars will most likely exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, he needs to have a breakout season in 2022 to ensure he will remain in Jacksonville for years to come. Working in his favor is the fact that the Jags added several defensive pieces in free agency and might draft a pass rusher first overall. With more talent around him, Allen should be able to thrive.