UK Football

UK’s Josh Allen’s ready to prove ‘I’m the best player in this draft’ at NFL Combine

Most NFL mock drafts have Kentucky’s Josh Allen listed as an “edge rusher.” UK’s roster called him a linebacker. He moved from wide receiver to play defensive end in high school.

So what position does Allen play?

“Defensive player,” he said as an NFL official ushered him away at the end of a media session on Saturday at the NFL Combine.

Allen is a probable top-five draft selection, and could possibly go as high as No. 2 to the San Francisco 49ers. Several mock drafts have Nick Bosa, a defensive end out of Ohio State who missed most of last season with a bilateral core muscle injury, as the No. 1 selection to the Cardinals. Talk of the Cardinals taking Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray picked up steam during the combine as well, which would potentially knock Allen further down a board he believes should start with his name at the top.

Following UK’s win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, Allen proclaimed that, ”If I don’t go number one, I don’t know who is.” He backed that sentiment up at the combine.

“I still stand by it,” Allen said. “I think I’m the best player in this draft. I believe every guy here should believe that. But I believe that, and if a team doesn’t believe that …”

He paused for a second.

“Then I’ll see them during the season.”

Allen as of his media session had only formally met with two franchises — the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, who hold the seventh and eighth picks, respectively, in this year’s draft. He had 11 other team interviews scheduled for Saturday evening and was asked to confirm if the 49ers or Oakland Raiders (pick No. 4) were among them.

“They should be,” Allen said with a grin. “I hope so.”

Allen said he would participate in combine drills on Sunday, something that Bosa also plans to do. Murray did not participate in quarterback drills on Saturday; Quinnen Williams, a defensive tackle out of Alabama who’s also in the top-three conversation, is expected to participate on a limited basis due to an upcoming finger surgery.

UK’s star linebacker — who recorded 17 sacks as a senior — doesn’t know how much more he’ll be able to improve his stock.

“I don’t know what (teams) are thinking, but I hope I can,” Allen said. “I don’t gotta go that far up. I’m just enjoying myself and being the best me I can be.”

He brought up his versatility as a factor that teams should consider when weighing their options.

“I think I’m one of the only guys that really dropped into (pass) coverage half the season as well,” Allen said. “… I think that separates myself from a lot of guys here.”

Allen has solicited advice from former UK standouts Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Za’Darius Smith (Baltimore Ravens). He has also spoken with Khalil Mack and Von Miller, to whom he likened himself on Saturday.

“I say that because I believe those two are the best at the position, and I feel like I’m the best, so I might as well compare myself with the best, and I believe my game symbolizes both of theirs.”

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Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.