In this article discussing Gems From Drafts Past, we are going to talk about an absolute home run of a pick, a guy who went early on Day 3 believe it or not: Jared Allen. Let’s take a look at how he went from potentially having to be a long snapper to even get a chance in the league to one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.
Jared Allen started his career as a pass rusher at Idaho State in 2000. During his time there he had 38.5 sacks, 17.5 of which came in 2003. At the combine in 2004 he weighed in at 6′ 6″, 265 pounds and ran a 4.75 40 yard dash, but only benched 225 pounds 13 times. Throughout the draft process, he was looked down on due to the low level of competition he faced at Idaho State. He was projected as a 6th or 7th round pick. Some of the experts didn’t even have him playing in the pros as a defensive end, they had him as a long snapper. They said that he had “too narrow of a base” and that he didn’t “have enough power or burst” to be a pass rusher in the NFL.
In the 2004 NFL Draft, he went earlier than his projected round. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 126th overall pick. In his rookie year for the Chiefs, he started ten games and recorded nine sacks. It didn’t take long for him to really start digging into his bag of tricks and begin leaving his mark on the league. In the 2007 season, he made the Pro Bowl and led the league with 15.5 sacks. He also had 65 total tackles and a league best 19 tackles for loss.
In 2008, the Chiefs traded Allen to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick, two third-rounders, and a swap of sixth round picks. Allen signed a six-year, $72.36 million dollar contract plus a $15 million dollar signing bonus with Minnesota, where he began to really excel and become a household name. Every season he played with the Vikings he had double-digit sacks. One season he even racked up 22 sacks. For a large portion of his career, he did a phenomenal job of causing havoc in the backfield and making offenses miserable.
In 2014, Allen signed a four-year deal with the Chicago Bears. He would then be converted to an edge rusher in their 3-4 defense. This was an adjustment for Allen. While he would rack up lots of tackles, his sack numbers and QB hits were down in comparison to past seasons. In 2015, the Bears would trade him to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick. Allen didn’t have a whole lot of production. He was mainly used as a rotational pass rusher for crucial plays.
In 2016, Allen retired from the NFL and signed a one-day contract so he could retire as a Minnesota Viking. He was eligible for the Hall of Fame this year, but he was not inducted.
There were a lot of questions surrounding Allen throughout his time at Kansas City. He was in and out of trouble with the law with DUI cases. He has had three in his life: one in college and two in his time at Kansas City. Thankfully Allen was able to turn his life around, get on the right path, and have a successful career in the NFL. Allen ended his career holding the record for the most consecutive games with a sack (11), led the league in sacks twice in his career, and is tied in the record books for the most caused safeties in a career. He is also 15th on the all-time sack list.
I hope in the end Allen ends up making it into Canton because he would have traveled a long road to get there. The odds were stacked against him from the beginning, and he never had to switch to long snapper to get there. Props to the Chiefs for seeing something in him and taking a chance.
Follow Austin on Twitter @ArmchairAustin.