Ex-Cats

‘Go hunt, go eat.’ Kentucky star fits perfectly in new home.

Josh Allen: A look back at the Kentucky edge rusher’s 2018 season

Highlights from University of Kentucky football linebacker Josh Allen's 2018 season.
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Highlights from University of Kentucky football linebacker Josh Allen's 2018 season.

He wasn’t there in many mock drafts — including the team’s own — but when the actual time arrived, Josh Allen was available when the Jacksonville Jaguars picked at the No. 7 spot in the 2019 NFL Draft.

They pounced, bolstering a defense that ranked fifth in yards allowed last season but was among the lower third of the league with 37 sacks. Allen made a name for himself as a quarterback attacker at the University of Kentucky, setting the single-season school record in the category as a senior and finishing as UK’s career leader.

Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey, considered one of the league’s best corners and who had the fifth-year option on his rookie contract picked up Thursday, wrote in a text to Allen two weeks ago: “Ain’t nobody betta in this draft.”

Allen during a press conference called Jacksonville’s secondary “amazing.”

“I wanted to go to a secondary that’s really deep and talented, that can play man coverage and lock players up so I can have our defensive line go hunt, go eat,” Allen said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to get sacks, I want to contribute to my team. I want to just be a good player.”

He corrected himself instantly.

“I want to be a great player.”

Allen is only the second UK player drafted by the franchise, period, joining defensive back Marlon McCree, who was taken in the seventh round of the 2001 draft. According to Spotrac’s salary projections based on the NFL rookie scale, Allen’s initial contract will be worth about $22 million over five years (the fifth year is a team option) alongside a signing bonus of about $14 million.

That’s a lot of money, but it’s about $10 million fewer in salary and about $7 million less for the signing bonus compared to the No. 3 draft slot, held this year by the New York Jets, to whom Allen was projected to go in many mock drafts. The Jets selected Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who was the second of four defensive players and the first of two Southeastern Conference players taken ahead of Allen in the first round.

San Francisco took Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, as many anticipated, at No. 2. The Oakland Raiders surprised many by taking Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell — a defensive end pegged as a later first-round selection in most mocks, and who was not a green-room invitee — with the No. 4 pick. LSU linebacker Devin White was picked No. 5 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It’s the draft,” Allen said. “You never know what to expect. My mentality going into the draft was, ‘Don’t expect anything. When the phone rings, pick it up and that’s your new home.’ I feel like my phone rang at a perfect situation. Jacksonville is a great organization.”

Allen said a lot of teams promised they’d take him if he was there, but the Jaguars were the ones who made good on theirs. He’s eager to reassure them of their confidence in him.

“Sacksonville is never leaving,” Allen said. “We’re here. Let’s go to work.”

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