ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Russell Wilson was a Cougar. A Collegiate Cougar to be more specific to give an idea of the college preparatory academic program his high school carried in Richmond, Va.
Dalton Risner was a Tiger, as locals should know as the Wiggins High School nickname.
Courtland Sutton is a Cub. (Aren’t we all?)
Javonte Williams is a Bulldog. (But we already knew that).
New Broncos rookie Christopher Allen? He’s a Mighty Kitten, by gosh.
A Mighty Kitten coming off a wounded paw. Before Allen became a terrific, if injury-plagued outside linebacker for Mighty Alabama, the 6-3 ½, 241-pound freak athlete starred for the Southern Lab Mighty Kittens in his hometown of Baton Rouge. A four-star recruit out of the K-12 school, Allen missed his entire first sophomore season at Alabama in 2018, returned to play in 13 games in 2019 and led the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss as a junior in 2020 with 6.0 sacks.
Allen then got off to a dynamic start as a senior in 2021 when he had three tackles and a strip-sack fumble of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King early in the Crimson Tide’s season-opening win of 2021. But while strip-sacking King, Allen suffered a Lisfranc injury that required season-ending surgery. He had two screws removed from his foot on Jan. 31, and yet with little time to train posted a 37-inch vertical, 10-foot-2 long jump and 4.7-second 40 at a workout in mid-April for pro scouts.
If not for his medical issues, Allen likely would have been drafted in the third or fourth round. Instead, he surprisingly slipped past the seventh and final round. Credit Broncos general manager George Paton for stepping up to give Allen a $30,000 signing bonus plus another $150,000 in salary guarantee – easily the most among the Broncos’ 13 undrafted rookies this year.
The physical exam he takes Thursday when he reports for the Broncos’ rookie minicamp will determine whether Allen is cleared to participate in the team’s offseason program. Allen believes he’s healthy and ready but a source told 9NEWS the Broncos’ medical staff is considering holding him back until training camp to give his foot a little more time to recover.
It’s astounding how much priority Paton put on edge rushers this offseason. His top free agent, Randy Gregory, is an outside linebacker pass rusher. His top draft pick, Nik Bonitto, is an edge rusher. And the Broncos’ top undrafted investment, Allen, in an edger rusher.
That makes seven – count ‘em seven – quality edge rushing outside linebackers on the Broncos’ roster. Bradley Chubb partners with Gregory, who is coming off shoulder surgery, as the starters. Bonitto and Malik Reed will be the first two off the bench. Allen will compete with second-year outside linebackers Jonathon Cooper and Baron Browning for the top two spots in the third wave.
An overload of edge rushers was inspired by three players – Pat Mahomes II, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr, the three opposing quarterbacks in the Broncos’ AFC West Division.
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