JACKSONVILLE – Linebacker was a hot Jaguars topic Friday.
But there was more linebacker news Friday.
That involved defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen, who as expected was a major topic as the Jaguars’ 2019 draft class gathered along with 21 collegiate free agents and a handful of first-year veterans for ‘19 rookie minicamp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex Friday.
“He looks in great shape,” Marrone said of Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the late April 2019 NFL Draft. “Right now, today when we walked out there … he was impressive. It’s impressive, his movement and skills for a big man.”
Allen was going to be a minicamp topic with or without Smith announcing Thursday that he didn’t plan to play in 2019. Smith’s announcement prompted questions to Marrone about using Allen at outside linebacker in addition to pass-rushing end.
“You look at Josh, and you’re looking at a 6-feet-4½, 265-pound athlete,” Marrone said. “There are a lot of things we can do. We just got him here. Obviously, he’ll [be capable of] play[ing] both [hands] up [linebacker], play down [end].
“We’ll see how he best fits our team as we go through and not try to put too much on his plate and try to see what he can do great. …. We’ll see how it goes, but to answer your question, ‘No.’’’
That quote reflects what the Jaguars in recent seasons often have done with versatile rookies – i.e., allow them to learn one position before trying them in multiple situations.
“I just do whatever they want me to do,” Allen said. “If they brought me here to play multiple positions … that’s what they’ll use me as. If they want me just to rush the passer, I’ll rush the passer. I’ll just do my job, do what they tell me to do and try to be great at that.”
Added Allen, “I was just with the D-line today, just working on that. They really don’t want me to move. They want me to learn something first, then if they want me to play another position I will. Right now, I’m just trying to learn defensive end.
“Once I get going and familiar with the schemes, then I can learn from there.”
Allen said he worked Friday “learning how to get back in a three-point stance and making that your base position” after playing primarily in a stand-up role at the University of Kentucky.
“I’m trying to get back familiar with that,” Allen said, “but I’m a quick learner.”
*NFL rookie camps are about first impressions. As Marrone saw it, most of the 2019 rookie class made good ones Friday. “They all look big, and they all look like they were in shape,” Marrone said. “That’s the one thing we’re looking for. … All those guys by the way they performed today have been working. That’s encouraging from our standpoint. … Everyone on that field today was pretty much ready to go.” Marrone said the rest of rookie minicamp will focus on teamwork, conditioning, etc. … “things they might not have gotten tips on because they’ve been preparing so much for the draft. We’re trying to get them acclimated.” Marrone said players also will be watched to determine how they retain information. “All we’re looking to see is to be sure that we can get better and better,” Marrone said. “As we go through that, there are always surprises. It’s early and we’re excited to have these guys in and we’re excited about coaching these guys.” The rookies will join veterans in the offseason program beginning Monday.
*Allen is wearing No. 41 – the number he wore at Kentucky and one worn by second-year cornerback Tre Herndon last season. It’s common practice for new players to pay players already on the roster for coveted numbers. Allen declined to say how much he paid Herndon for the number. “He was real cool about it,” Allen said with a smile. “I texted him. He hit me back. We talked business a little bit. Other than that, we’re all good here.” Allen was asked the number’s importance. “I feel like not a lot of people wear 41 at my position,” he said. “I want to make it look good. I didn’t want to wear 99. I might may as well get my number back. I asked him. He said, ‘Yeah.’ We talked business.” Allen was asked if there was a price he wouldn’t have gone past. “Yeah,” he said, laughing. “Forty-one. If he would have said that, I would have been like, ‘Na. I’ll stick with ninety-something.’’’
*Jawaan Taylor, the second-round ’19 draft selection the Jaguars believe can solidify right tackle, also is an avid drummer; he has played drums in his church in Cocoa Beach, Florida, since he was six. “Going to church with my grandmother every Sunday, I just picked it up,” said Taylor, who played collegiately at the University of Florida. “I still play every time I go home.” Taylor said he played there Easter, five days before the Jaguars selected him. “I was home with my family,” he said. “I always play there.”