Allen, a 6-1, 209-pounder who played both cornerback and safety for the Vols, was projected as a first-round pick until he suffered a season-ending dislocated hip five games into the 2005 season. Allen restored his draft stock, however, by running a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Miami coach Lou Saban was head man at LSU when Allen graduated from Muscle Shoals (Ala.) High School. Saban recruited Allen heavily but couldn’t wrest him away from Tennessee.
“Jason came to our camp on several occasions when I was in college at LSU,” Saban said on ESPN’s draft special. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for him – as a person, as well as a player – and he’s certainly the kind of guy we love having in our organization.
Saban picked three SEC players in last year’s NFL Draft – Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown (Round 1), Florida linebacker Channing Crowder (Round 3) and LSU cornerback Travis Daniels (Round 4). Asked by ESPN why he prefers SEC players, Saban replied:
“We know them a little bit and have a lot of respect for the league and the quality of players that are in that league…. Those three players did an outstanding job for us last year, and we’re hopeful that Jason Allen will have the same kind of start for us this year.”
Draft analyst Mel Kiper praised Allen for his “linebacker mentality,” but ESPN cohort Michael Irvin noted that Allen will have to play safety in the pros.
Allen led all SEC players in tackles as a junior with 123 in 2004. He recorded 28 solos and 7 assists before getting hurt in 2005. He had three tackles for loss, a sack and two pass breakups.
Three Vols were picked in the first round of the 2002 draft – defensive tackle John Henderson, wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The selection of Allen ends a three-year drought.