Josh Allen is officially a professional.
Allen, the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year was taken as the 7th overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday night in Nashville. Allen brought his son, Wesley on stage to meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was chosen by the Jaguars.
“I’m about to go to an organization that really strives to sack the quarterback — that’s what I love to do,” Allen said late Thursday night. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Allen was considered as one of the top pass rushers in the draft and considered as a possible No. 3 pick, but Jacksonville pulled off somewhat of a surprise by taking Allen at No. 7. Allen is the 11th player in Kentucky history chosen in the Top 10 and the first since Dewayne Robertson was taken as the fourth overall pick by the New York Jets in 2003.
Allen was content with the pick after receiving word Thursday night.
“I couldn’t jump up and cheer, so I had to play it cool,” he said. “But I was happy. I’m just happy to be a part of an organization. When I saw it was Jacksonville, I said, ‘Man. Man, oh man. I’m ready.’’’
Allen, the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, helped lead the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and a 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. The team’s finish was the Wildcats’ best finish in more than four decades.
“Seventeen-and-a-half sacks … I hope he can rush the passer,” Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin said. “We expect him to be able to be on the edge no matter what you line up with.”
Allen’s success, along with teammate Benny Snell’s accomplishments have elevated Kentucky’s recruiting ability especially nationally. Lonnie Johnson, Mike Edwards, Derrick Baity and Darius West also have contributed to the team’s success during the past three seasons.
“He ranks right up there as one of the great players that I have had the opportunity to coach, there is no question about that,” Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops said earlier this week. “There is no doubt that he will be a successful pro by the way that he lives his life and the way he is driven to be great. He will be on that board and probably front and center.”
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was selected as the No. 1 pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Murray won the Heisman Trophy last season.
Snell, Johnson, Baity and West also are expected to be chosen in the draft that ends Saturday in Nashville.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.