Devon Allen will finally get his first shot as an NFL wide receiver at age 27. Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles signed Allen to a three-year deal on Friday (a standard contract for an undrafted free agent).
He was a four-star recruit out of high school and showed a ton of potential as a freshman wide receiver at Oregon in 2014. During that season, he caught 41 passes for 684 yards and seven touchdowns. He showed the ability to be a solid deep threat with elite speed while averaging 16.7 yards per catch.
Unfortunately, he struggled to stay healthy, suffering multiple knee injuries, and had far more limited opportunities during his sophomore and junior seasons. He played in just nine games over those final two seasons of football, catching 13 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown during that span.
So that brings us to 2016 in Allen’s career. Where the heck has he been since? How has he suddenly found himself signed to an NFL deal? Let’s dig a bit deeper into the story of this unique athlete and brand new weapon for the Philadelphia Eagles:
Life On The Track
Coming out of college, Allen made the decision to move on from football and instead focus his energy on track-and-field. Allen had already been an elite athlete on the track through high school and college. Allen had placed first in the 110-meter hurdles in both the 2014 and 2016 USA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships with impressive times of 13.16 and 13.50 seconds.
After choosing to pursue track as his primary sport, he placed first in the 2016 US Olympic Trials with a truly elite 13.03 time in the 110-meter hurdles. He would represent the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics, placing fourth. Allen would continue to participate in national championships over the following half-decade and would eventually represent the United States in the Tokyo Olympics, placing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles.
Back On The Gridiron
So that brings us to the present. Allen seized the opportunity to appear at Oregon’s pro day, running an unofficial 4.35-second 40-yard dash. That gained the attention of pro scouts, including the Philadelphia Eagles.
Allen was invited to a visit with the Eagles, who moved quickly to sign the three-time national champion hurdler to join their wide receiver room. Interestingly, Allen told reporters that still intends to participate in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships and the World Athletics Championships this summer before coming to the Eagles’ training camp.
What It Means For Philly
It is safe to assume Allen is not the ultimate answer to fixing the Eagles’ wide receiver corps. The Eagles still need to add a second elite receiver across from DeVonta Smith. This will most likely occur during the draft, though the team has been linked to rumors around current stars like DK Metcalf.
That said, Allen is an intriguing addition. Smith and Quez Watkins proved themselves as viable starters in 2021. However, no one else in that wide receiver room has shown an ability to consistently contribute at a pro level. JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor have been massive disappointments. Newcomer Zach Pascal is a viable third or fourth option at best.
Allen, with his elite speed, could become a very unique weapon in Jalen Hurts’ arsenal. He could easily find himself getting regular reps in this offense as a fourth option. He could be a deep threat and use his athleticism to be dangerous in screen passes and reverse-plays.
Kudos To Howie Roseman For His Creativity
Allen is the latest in a series of interesting, outside-the-box signings by Howie Roseman. Roseman found star left tackle Jordan Mailata out of Australian Rugby through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. He gave Arryn Siposs a shot a punter, who rose to fame in the Australian Football League (though he eventually kicked for Auburn and spent some time on the Lions’ practice squad before earning a starting gig in Philadelphia).
Will Allen prove to be a diamond in the rough for the Eagles? Can he parlay his elite speed and athleticism into a productive football career at 27 years old?
More to come from Philadelphia.