Howie Roseman has repeatedly vowed to "leave no stone unturned" in the Eagles' efforts to improve the roster for 2022 and beyond and so, well, file this one in that category: The Eagles have signed wide receiver Devon Allen, a 27-year-old who at one time passed on a chance to pursue a professional football career to become an Olympic star. A three-time National Champion in the 110-meter hurdles and a two-time Olympian, Allen worked out for NFL scouts at Oregon's Pro Day recently and impressed the Eagles enough to merit a visit on Thursday to the NovaCare Complex and, as the team later announced, a contract.
Allen hasn't played football since 2016, his third season on the field at Oregon. In 2014 with the Ducks, the speedster – obviously – was a premier deep threat catching 41 passes for 684 yards and 7 touchdowns before suffering a knee injury during the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl. He was rated a four-star recruit coming out of high school and made a huge impact with Oregon as a redshirt freshman on campus before focusing more and more and, ultimately, completely on the 110-meter hurdles. In 2015, Allen caught 9 passes for 94 yards and then had 4 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown in 2016 before suffering another knee injury.
Remarkably, he came back from those injuries to rank among the very best in the world in the 110-meter hurdles.
By that time his Oregon football career was winding down, Allen was an up-and-coming track and field star. Twice he won the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 110 hurdles and he also won the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. In 2016 as he turned pro in November, Allen won the event at the Olympic Trials in a time of 13:03 seconds and finished fifth in that year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with a time of 13.31 seconds. Allen just missed medaling in the event in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (held last July and August because of COVID-19), finishing with a time of 13.14 seconds, just four-tenths of a second off the bronze medal.
He participated in Oregon's Pro Day last Friday and was officially timed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash, saying he wanted to pursue his NFL dream before he was too old to give it a go.
"It's now or never because I don't want to get too old," the 27-year-old Allen told reporters at Oregon's Pro Day. "I don't want to turn 30, 31, and then try and get into the NFL. I know the skill gap is still there from college to the NFL, but I think when I did play college and when I did play at a pretty good level, I would consider myself talented enough to play in the NFL."
Clearly, he showed enough at Oregon's Pro Day to earn a contract from the Eagles, who are interested in taking a longer look. Roster spots aren't easy to come by in the NFL, so the Eagles are intrigued enough to bring him onboard and see how his skills compare on the football field in 2022.