While releasing Kirk Cousins for Alex Smith has Washington confident on offense, head coach Jay Gruden also sees some major improvements happening on defense for next season.
In scouting out the Southeastern Conference in the last two NFL Draft events, the Redskins selected four University of Alabama alums in hopes that Nick Saban’s training delivers results in a rugged NFC East.
Despite the potential of linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton and defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly believes that the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year from the 2016 season has the best chance to breakout in 2018.
Casserly, a general manager for the Redskins and Houston Texans for 16 years, has a lot of confidence in defensive end Jonathan Allen. According to a video on Redskins.com, the three-time Super Bowl winning GM picked Allen as one of five potential breakout players this fall.
“Jonathan Allen can play run, he can rush the quarterback, very good inside pass rusher and he is highly instinctive,” Casserly said of Allen via NFL Network. “As for his stats, the Redskins will be better no matter what his stats are.”
Allen recorded 10 tackles and a sack in 2017, before sustaining a season-ending foot injury in week six and was placed on injury reserve. Two shoulder surgeries at Alabama had NFL teams concerned about his durability in the 2017 draft process.
Regardless of the issues, the Virginia native was a first-round selection to the Redskins as the 17th overall pick.
The 6-foot-3, 288-pounder turned in a stellar career with the Crimson Tide, as he grabbed three first-team All-SEC honors (2014-16), a unanimous All-American honor (2016), Bronko Nagurski Trophy (2016), Lombardi Award (2016), Ted Hendricks Award (2016) and Chuck Bednarik Award (2016). Allen’s senior season under Saban, one in which he captured all the honors listed, saw him total 10.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries, three fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
He anchored an Alabama defense in 2016 that amassed 54 sacks, 80 quarterback hurries and 11 touchdowns – all of which are the most under Saban.
The three-time SEC champion (2014-16) and College Football Playoff champion in 2015 enters his second professional season in the fall. Allen is ready to take Washington to the next level.