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Why Kentucky LB Josh Allen wasn’t the Raiders pick at #4

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NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders fans are used to seeing the Silver and Black make some head-scratching draft picks, and this year was no exception as the Raiders passed on SEC Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen for Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell. While many of us have watched plenty of tape on Ferrell and have come to look favorably on that pick, at the time it was puzzling, and Allen’s fall to pick #7 was puzzling as well.

In his latest mailbag for The Athletic, Raiders insider Vic Tafur sheds some light on the team’s thought process in going with Ferrell over Allen.

“I heard that the Raiders weren’t that impressed. I reported pretty early on he wasn’t in play for them at No. 4. I would never question a player’s toughness, but there were concerns that he got pushed around a little on some plays at Kentucky and he may not have had enough dog in him for [Jon] Gruden and [defensive coordinator Paul] Guenther’s liking,” wrote Tafur.

While I and many others had Allen mocked to Oakland at #4, it’s easy to see why Ferrell might be a better fit for the Raiders than Allen. Ferrell is 6’3” and 265 pounds, while Allen is 6’5” and 245. That sort of long, lanky frame makes Allen best suited as a pass-rushing OLB, when what the Raiders needed was a 3-down base DE. Allen is not that, and if they picked Allen at #4 they’d be frantically searching through their Rolodex for Frostee Rucker’s number. However, Allen fits perfectly with the Jaguars as they already have two of the better base ends in the league in Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. Allen is free to do what he does best without putting his hand in the dirt.

Ferrell’s tape doesn’t show a ton of bend and he can sometimes over-run the pocket on the outside, but he almost never gets pushed around. He’s too tough and strong to get bullied in that fashion even by quality ACC linemen. The Raiders clearly weren’t just looking for the “best pass rusher”, they were looking for the right pass rusher, who fit both their system and their idea of what it means to be a Raider. Toughness, aggression, high character, high motor, one who “has dog in him”, whatever that means. A love of football and an aggressive style are hallmarks of all the Raiders’ picks. Perhaps Josh Allen is more of a cat guy- he certainly fits in as a Jaguar in any case.