Everyone at the Combine comes from different backgrounds, collegiate experiences and even levels of competition, making the event the ultimate football melting pot of over 330 unique stories.
Despite all those differences, one thing remained true across almost every opponent who had Kentucky on their schedule last season: Josh Allen was an absolute nightmare to play against.
“Josh Allen was the best pass rusher I faced last year,” Florida left tackle Jawaan Taylor said. “Josh Allen just brings a lot of different moves to the table. Brian Burns was more of a speed guy with a counter inside. He has a lot of different moves as well, but Allen is just a little bit stronger so you have to be able to prepare for his strength as well.”
Taylor is hardly alone in his sentiment, as the same notion was repeated all over Indy during the opening day for players to talk to the media. But while Taylor mostly shut Allen down in their one-on-one match-ups, some of the other teams he faced carried deeper scars from the level of damage he inflicted upon them.
“The best player I faced in college was Josh Allen,” South Carolina left tackle Dennis Daley said with a slight smile through the pain of the memory. “We kinda got in a hole on offense and things weren’t going our way late. He’s a real good player, he knows how to bend to get around the edge, he’s so good at that. And he never stops, he just keeps it going. He’s got that motor.”
Daley ain’t lying. Pop in the tape against South Carolina, and you’ll see a possessed Allen rip off eight tackles, three sacks, four tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble. Late in the game, Daley struggled to find the set points to stop Allen’s speed rush, and the result was almost constant pressure from the Kentucky edge defender.
“Facing Josh Allen…I guess it put in the back of my head that I never want to feel this way again,” said Daley. “I kind of took my preparation to another level because I didn’t ever want to go through that again.”
Dang. Rest easy, man.
That’s the kind of feeling that playing Josh Allen can conjure up though, and the impact isn’t just felt by offensive tackles. Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams was mesmerized by the impact Allen had against the Aggies in early October.
“Josh Allen was the best player I faced over my career,” Williams told The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. “He knew what plays were coming before we ran them.”
Allen isn’t clairvoyant, but his full complement of skills is pretty rare at the position. In addition to being a highly athletic, physical competitor with a non-stop motor on the field, Allen is also exceptionally cerebral and hard-working in his approach off the field, bulking up almost 40 pounds over his time at Kentucky.
His career year is hardly news to anyone, but hearing general managers talk all week in Indy about the importance of production, speed and versatility when evaluating edge pass rushers, it sure feels like Allen is going to come off the board extremely early in April’s draft. If the order stays as it is, I would be surprised to see Allen get past the second pick in San Francisco. Then, in a few years, it’ll be NFC West opponents relaying the stories of how Josh Allen wrecked their Sundays in the NFL.