Countdown to Jaguars Football: No. 49 Represents Josh Allen's Rookie Success

John Shipley

In fewer than 100 days, the Jacksonville Jaguars will return ... at least as things stand today.

While there is still some uncertainty surrounding the start of the NFL season, the league office has made it clear that they are planning to kick the season off on Sept. 10 and then have every other team play on Sept. 13.

By going off that timeline, we are now just 49 days from watching the Jaguars take the field against the Indianapolis Colts for the first regular season game of 2020.

Since only three players have ever worn No. 49 in the Jaguars history (long snapper Colin Holba in 2017; fullback Ty Hallock in 1996;  undrafted free agent long snapper Ross Matiscik in 2020), we are instead going to look at how the number relates to the Jaguars moving forward. 

For the Jaguars, the No. 49 represents one major thing: a homerun hit, at least early on, in the first-round with Josh Allen.

The team's top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Allen was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick, making him the final first-rounder selected by former executive Tom Coughlin. Coughlin believed in building in the trenches, and adding the talented Kentucky senior to a defensive line with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue certainly did that.

"As it was coming down, there were a number of picks in front of us where we thought he would go," Coughlin said following the first round. "When he fell to us, he was a superior football player – and too good a player to possibly pass up."

Allen went on to appear in all 16 games for the Jaguars, playing 634 snaps (60 percent of the defensive snaps). In those snaps, he made the most of his opportunities, turning in 49 total pressures to go along with his 10.5 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. 

According to PFF, the figure was second among rookies last season. Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa led the pack with an astonishing 80 pressures, but 49 is a figure that impressive considering Allen played fewer snaps than Bosa since he was in more of a rotational role. 

By notching 10.5 sacks, Allen led all rookies in 2019 and set a Jaguars rookie record, breaking the record of eight sacks set by Ngakoue in 2016. Despite playing significantly fewer snaps than Campbell (818) and Ngakoue (790), Allen still led the Jaguars in sacks by 2.5 last season. 

In addition to his 10.5 sacks, Allen recorded 11 tackles for loss, 23 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. He was named a Pro Bowl alternative, making him the first rookie in franchise history to ever earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. 

By recording 10.5 sacks, Allen became only the sixth player since 2011 to record double-digit sacks as a rookie, joining the likes of Von Miller, Aldon Smith and Bradley Chubb. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, only 35 rookies have reached double-digit sacks and only 23 players had at least 10.5,

Jacksonville has had its fair share of missed opportunities in the first round in their history, but Allen already represents a case of making the best possible pick in the top of the draft. With the uncertainty surrounding Ngakoue in 2020, it makes the selection of him even more important for the Jaguars in the short- and long-term. 

The Jaguars were able to draft Allen thanks to the decisions made directly in front of them in the draft: the New York Jets took defensive lineman Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 pick, the Raiders took defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 pick and the New York Giants took quaterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 pick. Allen fell to the Jaguars and went on to set the rookie franchise record in sacks, make a Pro Bowl trip and establish himself as the next face of the defense.

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