The first round of the NFL Draft is on April 25, and UK fans shouldn’t have to wait long to hear commissioner Roger Goodell announce a familiar name, as linebacker Josh Allen seems to be a consensus top-five pick.
Recently, ESPN Senior Writer Todd McShay completed his “best-case” mock draft, in which every team drafts the players McShay believes would benefit them the most.
Despite sending Allen to the New York Jets at pick No. 3 in another recent mock, McShay lists the Raiders as the team the 21-year-old’s talents could best serve.
Allen recorded 17 sacks last season in the SEC, so he’d be welcomed to a defense that recorded just 13 as a whole last season.
The Raiders 13 sacks ranked last in the league by a huge margin last season (17 away from 30th-place Giants and Patriots, who both recorded 30). After trading Khalil Mack and not doing anything to compensate for his absence, Oakland badly needs edge rushing. If Allen were to slip past the first three teams and wind up at pick No. 4, it would certainly be hard for Coach Jon Gruden and company to pass up on him.
If this scenario occurs, let’s examine the unit Allen would be joining.
Oakland spent some money in free agency to bring in veteran linebackers Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict, neither of whom have been healthy in past seasons. In 2018, Marshall played in 11 games and recorded only 42 total tackles, none of which were sacks. Due to either suspensions or injuries, Burfict has not played a full season since 2013. In 2018, he played in only 7 games, recording 33 total tackles.
The linebacking core also contains Tahir Whitehead, who led the team in tackles with 126 total last season. Marquel Lee was second on that list, with merely 68. Nicholas Morrow was the only Radiers linebacker to record a sack all season.
Allen tallied 17 sacks for UK last season, along with 88 total tackles and five forced fumbles. He left the university with numerous awards, and has been one of the 23 players invited to attend the NFL Draft.
McShay believes if Allen is still available at pick No. 4, the Raiders would have a chance to inject life and energy into a defensive unit that sorely missed such attributes in 2018.
Last month Allen met with many teams, one of which was the Raiders. The interest is there, as is the need. All that’s left to do is wait and see how things play out in 11 days.