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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden 04-27-17

On Jonathan Allen:

"There really wasn't anything not to like, really. We like his size, we like his strength, we like his ability to rush the passer, play the run. He's a very versatile guy – he can play all the positions on defensive line. Really, never in a million years did we think he would be there at 17, but we're happy-as-heck he was. There was not a lot of debate in there – we put the card in and took a heck-of-a football player and a great person." 

On if there were any injury concerns for Allen:

"We didn't have any concerns. We talked to Dr. [James] Andrews and he gave us the thumbs up on him. Plus, we feel very good about the injuries. As far as him falling to us, there were a lot of things that happened in the draft. Three quarterbacks went, a couple of receivers went pretty high, a lot of offensive players went that probably not a lot of people expected, so some of these very good defensive players fell to us. We're happy. It's something that we really wanted to upgrade our defensive line obviously [and] to get a player like that, a leader like Jonathan. Talking with Coach [Nick] Saban at the University of Alabama last week, [he] had nothing but high praise for him – his character, his play on the field, what he does off the field, what he means as a leader to that Alabama football team. This is just a great pick. It's a no-brainer. You're taking a great person, a great player, a big body, a guy that can do a little bit of everything on defensive line." 

On if there was temptation to move up in the draft as Allen fell closer to No. 17:

"There was a couple of guys that were slipping that we really liked. We were in a very good situation. We had two or three guys that we really felt good about with that pick. But Jonathan had our highest grade and it was an easy pick for us."

On waiting several minutes to turn in Allen's selection:

"You just want to wait and see if there's an offer too good to refuse maybe, but just we talked it over – the staff, defensive staff, scouts. It's an important time. We don't need to turn in the card right away. But we talked about it and it was a consensus deal and we are happy as heck about it."

On Allen being the team's first defensive selection in the first round since linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in 2011 and if he now imagines the possibilities with those two playing together:

"Yeah, it's exciting and it's something we needed to do. That's a great point because it was the first [defensive] pick we've had in the first round we since Kerrigan. You talk about upgrading your defense, well you have to pick a guy high. You have to take the best at the position, and he's the best defensive lineman we thought in the draft. Like I said, we never thought he would be there, but the chance to really add another big bodied guy who can do a lot of different things… Add him with [Terrell] McClain, Ziggy [Hood] and the guys that we have in the building – the Laniers [Anthony Lanier II], some of the young guys, [Stacy] McGee. We think we have a pretty good group now."

On Allen saying he 'blacked out' from excitement on the phone call:

"Well, there was a long pause on the phone. I thought we got disconnected there. I think we were both equally excited. He's a local kid obviously, so he's close to home now and he's a Redskins fan and we're obviously a fan of him."

On what it is that he can bring to the front:

"Versatility. You talk about our front, we have guys that can play the run pretty good, but this guy can do everything. He can line up at a 3, he can line up at a 5, he can line up at a nose if you want him to. He can stunt, he can play the run, but he can rush the passer. In the last two years, I think he has 22.5 sacks, 25 or 30 more hurries on the quarterback and that versatility is hard to find this day and age in defensive linemen, it really is. Big bodied guys usually are just run stoppers, they're not able to rush the passer as effectively as he is. And that's a big need for us." 

On when he sees Allen's contributing:

"He's the 17th pick in the draft. He will contribute – tomorrow. Right now."

On what Allen gained by returning to Alabama for his senior year:

"I think any time you can add that type of work your senior year, especially when you're getting coached by Coach Saban and that staff over there at Alabama and to play with that team and be a leader on that defense that's so successful, I think it can only benefit you, really. And he could've come out last year and been a first-rounder too, but it just shows the type of character he is. He wanted to go back to school and finish with his guys. Just talking to Coach Saban, he had nothing but great things to say about him, obviously. Really it was wishful thinking, I thought. I said there's no way, I don't even want to ask questions about Jonathan. There's no way he's dropping. Luckily we did. And we know a lot about the kid. He's a local kid. We're tickled to death to get him."  

On if he saw improvement in Allen's run defense from his junior and senior seasons at Alabama:

"Well, no question. He's gotten a little bit stronger, he's a better player. Anytime you have another year in the system, you're going to be a better player. I think he played the run a lot better this year and obviously added to his sack total. He was voted the best defensive lineman in college football so there's a reason for that. He's doing multiple things well, you know? It's not just one thing. That's the thing that really draws you to him. It's like, OK, he can stop the run, he can rush, he does it all. Not to mention his character off the field is top notch."

On if he entertained any calls about a potential trade for Kirk Cousins:

"Not one call. Not one. There was no talk about it. Nothing."

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