Alabama defensive lineman could be perfect for Bears

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Southern California quarterback Max Browne (4) is sacked for a 5-yard loss by Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Allen would have been a first-round pick had he entered last year's draft. But now, after some fine-tuning, he's projected by many analysts to go to the Bears with the third overall pick this year.

    Southern California quarterback Max Browne (4) is sacked for a 5-yard loss by Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Allen would have been a first-round pick had he entered last year's draft. But now, after some fine-tuning, he's projected by many analysts to go to the Bears with the third overall pick this year. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/4/2017 6:29 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen would have been a first-round pick had he entered last year's draft. But now, after some fine-tuning, he's projected by many analysts to go to the Bears with the third overall pick this year.

A Bears' D-line consisting of Allen, Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks could anchor a front capable of dominating for the next several years. Allen had 22½ sacks in his final two years in Tuscaloosa, and he's become a better run defender, which is the biggest reason he came back for his senior season.

 

"I was being listed as a third-down player (last year)," the 6-foot-3, 291-pound Allen said. "Not too many people considered me as an every-down player, and that bothered me. It put a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to come back and prove that I can do both and do them effectively.

"(Playing) at Alabama is definitely not the easiest thing to do for four years. But I feel like coach (Nick) Saban has prepared me well for this opportunity, and I'm planning to take advantage of it."

Allen would be a right end in the Bears' base 3-4 defense. But he would likely move inside to tackle in nickel situations where he could be even more effective, creating matchup nightmares against bigger, slower guards who would have to deal with his array of pass-rush moves.

It created a stir at the NFL Scouting Combine when medical checks revealed a minor arthritic condition in his left shoulder, which has been surgically repaired to correct a labrum injury. Clearly the injury hasn't impeded his play, and he says if it ever becomes a more serious problem, it won't be for a long time.

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"My shoulder feels good," he said. "Every doctor said if there is a problem it (will be) after football -- way after football. I have no concerns with it at all. It's not really a problem now, but it might be a problem 15, 20 years down the road.

"I'm not worried about that right now. I'm just worried about playing good for whichever team I go to."

Having had months to recover from the 2016 season, Allen was feeling no pain when he spoke to the media Saturday.

"I have no restrictions on anything I do," he said. "This is probably the best I've felt in the last four years. I feel good, refreshed, recharged and ready to go." Anxious to put last season's 3-13 disaster in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible, the Bears would be improved immediately if they selected Allen with the third overall pick. He's considered a plug-and-play starter with the ability to make an impact from Day 1.

"One of the better inside pass rushers I have seen in years," said 32-year NFL scout Greg Gabriel in Pro Football Weekly's 2017 Draft Guide. "(He) will be an instant starter and impact player as a rookie."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If the Bears select Allen, he said they will get, "A winning attitude, a leader, a guy who's going to bust his butt every play, and a guy who's looking to come in and make an immediate impact in a positive way."

Asked if he ever found it necessary to take an occasional play off at Alabama, Allen laughed.

"If you do that," he said, "you won't be playing at Alabama, I promise you that."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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