Emma: Jonathan Allen Could Be A Force For Bears Defense

By Chris Emma–

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS) — Jonathan Allen stepped up to the podium and stood tall, ready to answer the one question mark about his potentially promising NFL career.

Doctors discovered a moderate case of arthritis in his surgically repaired shoulders. It’s a condition that won’t improve and can only worsen, but those doctors have assured Allen than it won’t affect him until later in life.

Allen posted 69 tackles and 10.5 sacks in his senior season at Alabama, winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Ted Hendricks Award. He will enter the NFL with zero restrictions.

“Every doctor said if there is a problem, it’s after football — well after football,” Allen said Saturday at the NFL Combine. “I have no concerns with it at all.”

The Bears will be among teams looking to confirm Allen’s health with their own doctors. After all, any player worthy of the No. 3 selection in the NFL Draft must be physically ready to endure the wear and tear of what’s hoped to be a long professional career.

Shoulders aside, Allen has proved everything necessary to be a monster on a defensive line. He was the tenacious rusher on Alabama’s vaunted defense, one whose versatility matches pure talent.

“I like to think I’m a technician, that I can do a lot of things,” Allen said. “You want me to rush from a 3-technique; I can do it effectively. You want me to bend the corner on the outside; I can do it. I can play the run, I can play double teams, I can play above the tight end, the 6-technique, scoot and cut off blocks. I feel like I can do anything that I’m asked to do on the defensive line.”

Bears general manager Ryan Pace must be intrigued by Allen’s potential. He’s the kind of dynamic pass rusher whose consistency off the edge showed with each game at Alabama. The coaching from Nick Saban’s staff has his technique ready for the next level.

Ever since Pace took office as Bears general manager, he has made it an emphasis to build the defense starting up front. With Eddie Goldman at the nose and Akiem Hicks on one end, the Bears can become ever better defensively with Allen’s presence. Of course, they also have major decisions to make at quarterback and in the secondary.

While defensive end isn’t the Bears’ most pressing need, Pace must consider how the rest of his budding defense would benefit from adding Allen, who would fit as the 5-technique with the ability to complement Goldman and Hicks. The entire unit would become better by adding Allen’s skill and versatility.

Pace wants playmakers who can change a game. Look no further than Allen.

“I can do a lot of things and play them all equally well for a team,” Allen said.

All-American offensive tackle Cam Robinson knows better than anyone what Allen brings. The two squared off each day of practice at Alabama, creating quite the matchup of iron sharpening iron.

What makes Allen so dynamic is the way he can burst off the snap and use his hands to stifle a tackle.

“He can do some things with his off-the-ball explosion, his hand quickness, his first step,” Robinson said of Allen.

The most pressing question for Allen this week was about the health of his shoulders. Doctors believe they won’t affect his career. Allen is taking it a step further by choosing to do the bench press, where he hopes to put to rest any skepticism.

At Alabama, Allen was a force. He dominated at the highest level of college football and earned his way to consideration at the top of this draft class. He could very well end up in a Bears uniform.

Allen checks every box of a top pick.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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