The Washington Redskins made Stone Bridge High School graduate Jonathan Allen their first pick in the 2017 NFL draft, taking the former All-American defensive lineman who became a star playing five miles from their team headquarters.
“It’s a blessing. It’s only something you read about in books – it doesn’t even seem real,” Allen said in a press conference. “For me to be going back home to Washington, it’s honestly just the biggest blessing I could have ever received.”
Allen, a Leesburg native, was rated as one of the best high school players in America before signing with the University of Alabama to play college football. Under Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson, the 2012 Gatorade Virginia Football Player of the Year recorded 119 tackles, nine sacks, six fumble recoveries, eight pass break ups and six blocked kicks his senior season, helping lead the Bulldogs to a 14-1 record and a state championship game appearance.
— Mickey Thompson (@T_Money4699) April 28, 2017
At Alabama, Allen earned first-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. He was a key piece of the Crimson Tide’s back-to-back National Championship game appearances in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, earning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive player as a senior.
Projected by draft analysts to go as high as one of the top three selections, Allen was available with the Redskins’ pick at 17 due to injury concerns about his shoulders. Head Coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins consulted with team doctor James Andrews, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, who dispelled any injury concerns.
“Really, never in a million years did we think he would be there at 17, but we’re happy-as-heck he was,” Gruden said in a press conference. “There was not a lot of debate in there – we put the card in and took a heck-of-a football player and a great person.”
That pick means Allen returns to Ashburn, a few months from playing for his favorite team.
“Growing up, that’s who you root for,” Allen said. “It’s just crazy that I’m actually going to be out there playing with them now.”