Redskins select Alabama defensive lineman with first round pick

Alabama's Jonathan Allen, left, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — An early run on offensive players worked in the Washington Redskins’ favor, allowing them to try to boost their lackluster defense by picking versatile Alabama lineman Jonathan Allen with the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

Allen can play inside or outside along the line and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2016, but there were medical concerns about shoulder problems that affected his draft stock.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, Allen is a senior who could instantly upgrade a defensive line that was one of the biggest weaknesses on a Redskins team that went 8-7-1 and failed to make the playoffs last season, a year after winning the NFC East.

Washington’s defense ranked 28th in the league and was particularly poor on third downs and against the run. The team fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry right after the season and made some additions in free agency on that side of the ball, signing linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain and safety D.J. Swearinger.

Now the Redskins have brought in Allen in hopes of continuing the makeover.

He arrived with the first of 10 picks held by Washington, which fired general manager Scot McCloughan early last month, halfway through his four-year deal. No replacement GM has been announced by the team, leaving team president Bruce Allen and Scott Campbell among those with key input during the draft.

Eight of the top 12 picks in the first round Thursday night were on offense, sending some of the top defensive talent tumbling.

Allen was the fifth consecutive defensive player selected.