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Josh Allen Already Has Place in History

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Josh Allen, before we get lost in the hype of the start of his NFL career, deserves to be regarded as one of the premier defenders the SEC has ever seen.

Expectations are high for Kentucky's Josh Allen, recently picked 7th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The idea of pairing Allen, arguably the top incoming edge defender on the board, with the likes of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue comes with staggering upside. While there is great anticipation ahead of Allen's upcoming debut, his accomplishments are already worthy of extraordinary consideration.

Allen is fresh off one of the greatest single-seasons by an edge rusher is SEC history.

Simply put, the 6'5'', 262-pound athlete ended his college career with a season for the ages. In total, Allen ranked in the top ten in the SEC with 88 tackles, led the league with 21.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks and forced five fumbles, good for second. Fittingly, he also blocked a field goal in the Capital One Bowl in his final outing, preserving a three-point victory as Kentucky clinched its first ten-win season in over 40 years. Allen, matching production with prominence, did all this for the nation's sixth-ranked defense.

For context, Allen is the only college football player this millennium with at least 80 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and more than 15 sacks in a year. 

Though Alabama legend Derrick Thomas holds the single-season SEC sack record with 27 in 1988, after recording 18 the season before, Allen's 17 sacks last fall have not been matched in over a generation leaguewide. Only three defenders in all of college football have compiled more sacks than Allen this decade. Fellow first round NFL draft picks, and likely future stars, Brian Burns and Quinnen Williams had 18 sacks this past year combined.

Prior to Allen, the last linebacker in the country with at least 16 sacks and four forced fumbles in a single season was Von Miller. Allen, comparing the two seasons, had 40 more tackles. His playmaking ability, coming in college football's toughest conference no less, was comprehensive and consistent. Simply put, the game has not seen much like all that Allen just put on display.

Allen, before we get lost in the hype of the start of his NFL career, deserves to be regarded as one of the premier defenders the SEC has ever seen. More than just an All-American, Allen is an all-timer. He, ahead of a high-profile transition to football's highest level, already belongs on the game's top shelf. Such acclaim and recognition stands as the foundation for Allen's journey forward.

Jacksonville picked a future leader in Allen, but a current luminary as well.

Winning the Bednarik, Lambert and Nagurski Awards and the Lott Trophy, all while leading Kentucky to as high as 11th in the national polls, Allen has a legacy that goes well beyond Lexington. Just as he was one of the first selections of the 2019 NFL Draft, Allen's resume also has very few peers.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports