Could Jonathan Allen actually fall to the Bengals?
That seemed like an impossible scenario for most of the 2016 college football season, as well as the offseason thus far. Allen was simply one of, if not the best defensive player in college football last year. He was also viewed as a consensus top-five pick in this draft with many projecting him to the 49ers at No. 2 overall.
Now, seeing Allen fall all the way to the No. 9 spot seems feasible with news that he could have shoulder issues heading into the NFL Draft. This week at the Scouting Combine, reports surfaced that Allen already has arthritis in his shoulders, a condition that wouldn’t bode well for his long-term durability in the NFL.
News that Jonathan Allen has moderate arthritis in both shoulders is huge. Fact is arthritic conditions never improve, they only get worse— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) March 2, 2017
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Alabama team doctor Dr. Lyle Cain does not think Allen’s shoulder injuries should be anything of a concern.
“Jonathan has really played without symptoms in his shoulders, and it's something that has not affected his performance or function,” Cain said. “It doesn't have to be treated during the season. And he's had a couple of great years. But he's played without any problems. This is something that a lot of offensive linemen and defensive linemen have, things guys play with their whole careers. It's just a little earlier for him because he got hurt in college."
Cain did go on to say that both of Allen’s shoulders have been surgically repaired, which should be a red flag for any team considering him early in Round 1. Many NFL prospects have had some sort of minor or major procedure done during their college career, but surgery on both shoulders is very concerning.
That kind of concern has rarely kept the Bengals from spending a high pick on a player. The franchise spent a first-round pick on Cedric Ogbuehi after he came into the NFL recovering from a torn ACL suffered in his final college game.
However, that was the No. 24 pick used to take Ogbuehi. This is the No. 9 pick we’re talking about and while Allen is one of the best players in this draft, he’s a guy who clearly has some banged-up shoulders coming into the NFL.
Still, Allen is a rare prospect who would be very hard to pass on, especially at No. 9. He’s exactly the kind of instant-impact defensive lineman the Bengals’ defense badly needs to play with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap next season.
For what it’s worth, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller projected Allen to Cincinnati in his latest mock draft. The 6-3, 291-pound lineman recorded 69 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last season, along with two fumble returns for a touchdown, earning him the Bronko Nagurski Trophy last season as the nation’s best defensive player.
That was after a junior season in which he recorded 36 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s simply too good of a prospect to fall out of the top 10 unless he has serious issues with those shoulders.