NFL teams hoping that former University of Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen might drop in the upcoming draft due to shoulder concerns shouldn’t hold their breath. At least that’s the way ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. sees things playing out.
“I haven’t heard anybody who says they’d take him off their list,” Kiper said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not going to hurt him.
“It might be something you worry about 15, 20 years down the road with an NFL team. You want to say, ‘How is he going to be now, moving forward five to seven or eight years.’ Jonathan Allen will be fine.”
Allen is considered a consensus top-five pick selection for the draft, which will be held April 27-29 in Chicago, but had both shoulders partially dislocated and subluxed during his Crimson Tide career, requiring surgery.
The shoulder issue was one of the reasons why Allen didn’t come out of the draft a year ago. Alabama team doctor Lyle Cain told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network last month that Allen’s left shoulder is moderately arthritic and the arthritis is similarly mild in his right.
“He’s a tremendous and mature kid,” Kiper added. “He has great talent and had a great year.”
Allen won the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski awards as the nation’s defensive player of the year, along with the Rotary Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman) and Ted Hendricks Award (best defensive end). He was credited with 69 tackles, including 16 for a loss and 10.5 sacks.
Kiper did admit that if Allen drops past the sixth pick one might be able to look back and wonder if his 6-foot-3, 286-pound frame and shoulders had some to do with it, but he doesn’t foresee that happening.
In his latest mock draft Kiper had Allen going fourth overall to Jacksonville, which has significantly upgraded the defensive line by signing free agents Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson in 2016. Colleague Todd McShay projected him third to the host Bears.
“A great thing about Allen is he gives you that three-technique if you’re Jacksonville,” Kiper said. “I think Jonathan Allen is a good fit for what they want to do, he’s an interior presence and can get after the quarterback up the gut, which is the worst pressure a quarterback can have.”