When Devon Allen attempted the borderline unprecedented transition to pivot from Olympic hurdling to playing wide receiver in the NFL, it felt like a longshot to say the least. Allen hadn’t caught a pass in a meaningful football game since all the way back in 2016, and even if his athletic testing numbers were still impressive, as he ran a 4.35 40 time at Oregon’s Pro Day, the prospect of picking back up where he left off felt like a daunting endeavor.
And yet, whether due to his efforts at the Ducks’ Pro Day or his half-decade-old highlight reel, the Philadelphia Eagles saw something they liked in Allen’s abilities and swooped him on a UDFA contract.
While Allen has made more news for his efforts on the track than on the field, as he ripped off a wicked fast 12.84 seconds 110-meter hurdle that marked the third-fastest time in the sport’s history and for being disqualified from the 2022 World Athletic Championships for a 0.01-second false start, the prospects of making a right proper run at the NFL at the age of 27 made for an interesting story.
Will Allen make the team? Will he overcome the odds and become the rare two-sport professional athlete who can do it on both the track and the field? Frankly, probably not, but Allen did make a pretty sweet play on his first NFL catch, and that will be something he remembers forever.
Devon Allen made a special highlight with the Philadelphia Eagles.
When the Eagles lined up on first and 10 at the 3:50 mark of the third quarter of the penultimate preseason game of the summer, it felt rather routine. The team was at their own 45-yard line, were trailing 14-20, and had largely dinked and dunked their way up and down the field up to that point in the game.
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen saw an opportunity to shake things up and went for it.
Calling a play from the 12 personnel grouping with Reid Sinnett under center and his wide receivers tight, Steichen sent Allen deep on a go-route that split the corners and watched the hurdler-turned-wide receiver breeze into the endzone untouched for his first ever NFL catch and NFL touchdown.
Goodness, I know it’s only the preseason, but that is sweet.
Upon further review, the play actually became even more impressive than it initially looked live, as Allen actually shimmied himself open as he sped down the field and was able to track the ball in the air for a slightly dramatic diving catch as the Eagles fans in attendance erupted in cheers.
Will Devon Allen ultimately make the Philadelphia Eagles’ 53-man roster? No, probably not; he’s too green – in a bad way – and should be viewed as more of a long-term project than an immediate contributor on offense or special teams. But hey, even if Allen’s preseason finale is a quiet one, there’s no reason why the Eagles couldn’t sign him to their practice squad and spend the next year teaching him the finer points of playing wide receiver at a high level. Even if his tenure doesn’t ultimately work out, that feels like a worthy endeavor thanks to his ability to rip off plays like that.