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Jaguars DE Josh Allen having fun during fantastic rookie campaign

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Selected in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen is one of the better pass rushers in the league

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Once thought of as one of the best pass rushers going into the draft this year, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie defensive end Josh Allen has proven to be that and more after being selected with the seventh overall pick out of Kentucky.

Allen is making a strong case to be this years defensive rookie of the year even though he may not get the national recognition he rightly deserves.

With nine sacks thus far this season, Allen leads all rookies and has now sketched his name in the record books in Jacksonville after eclipsing the rookie sack record (8) previously set by star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

Allen is in fantastic company, and Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash glows when talking about his rising young duo of pass rushers. Wash has coached several young pass rushers including Ngakoue, Allen, Dante Folwer Jr., Chis Clemons (Seattle), Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett (Tampa Bay), and Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay).

“They are one of the best ones we have had over the years,” Wash said on Thursday when asked how the young duo stacks up against the other duos he’s had in the past. “Obviously, we have had some really good ones in Seattle and we have had some good ones here when [Dante Fowler Jr.] was here, but I think those two [Josh and Yannick] really match each other.”

Having players who compliment each other as well as Allen and Ngakoue do, is rare. Coming out of college, Allen was known as a versatile player whether it be outside linebacker or defensive end. Now, in the NFL, he is proving his ability to do that, and more.

Allen had not heard his coach say rave about himself and Ngakoue, and glowed when asked about his defensive coordinator’s comments.

“That’s dope, that’s pretty cool I never heard him say that,” Allen said. “I’m really appreciative and he sees how hard we both work. We both try to strive to be great. I guess he sees that, when we play on the field we got the same mentality, we [are] trying to win no matter the situation, no matter the play, we try to beat our one on ones for our team. That means a lot.”

Last week, the Jaguars — in an effort to get more out of Allen —, played him in a 4B role, which is the team’s ‘big end’ position played often by defensive end Calais Campbell. Wash explained on Thursday the team can play Allen at a variety of positions.

“He is a big, strong, physical guy. We can play him at the big end. Last week you saw him [at a position], which you usually don’t do with a rusher,” Wash explained. “With his skill set, he has a lot of different things that he can do. Obviously, we don’t want to do too much for him. We just want to see him concentrate on a couple of things, but I think he has a bright, bright future.”

Allen sees himself as a player who can play multiple positions. Whether it is at linebacker, defensive end, or possibly even at defensive tackle on certain rush packages.

”With me, I’m a versatile player so I can really play any position on the field -- I feel I can,” Allen told Big Cat Country on Friday. “So it’s just when you a dog, and a guy that can do things like that they can put you in the best situations. Wherever my team needs me I’ll play.”

Allen has a bright future ahead of him in Jacksonville. Only 22 years old, Allen still has a lot of developing to do, but Wash feels the rookie out of Kentucky has exceeded expectations. Typically, a rookie pass rusher will struggle to make an impact out of the gate. Not Allen.

“A lot of that is credit to the young man,” said Wash. “Obviously, [Defensive Line] Coach [Jason] Rebrovich has done a really nice job with him of getting him to understand how to study the tape, break down his opponents and attack an offensive lineman. Josh is doing that at an early age just like Yannick [Ngakoue] did when he came in as a rookie.”

Allen will get another opportunity to on Sunday to play against players he may have grew up watching, which he says is one of the most fun aspects of playing in the NFL.

“It’s definitely exciting every week because you’re playing against somebody that you grew up watching all the time,” Allen reflected on playing and making it into the NFL. “So, in that aspect it’s really fun. It’s exciting that you’re finally here, that you finally arrived at the highest level.”