PHILADELPHIA — It seems Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has coveted defensive tackle Beau Allen for quite some time.
Allen, the Eagles’ seventh-round draft choice out of Wisconsin, received a phone call from Kelly during the final round of the draft. But the relationship goes back further than that:
Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, then the defensive line coach under Kelly at the University of Oregon, chased Allen when the 6-foot-2, 333-pound defensive tackle was being recruited out of high school. This year, Azzinaro — now in the NFL with Kelly — met with Allen at his Pro Day, prior to the NFL Draft.
The Eagles’ coaching staff believes Allen can play nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme, and the familiarity with the staff has made Allen’s initial transition to the NFL easier.
“[Azzinaro] introduced himself to me at Pro Day and reminded me that he recruited me,” Allen said Friday at the Novacare Complex. “I don’t really remember a whole lot about that, to be honest with you. That was a long time ago.
“But we just talked a little at Pro Day, and he’s a very easy guy to talk to and is very approachable. I just did the Pro Day stuff and I actually came here for a visit, too. I learned a little more about the scheme, the staff, front-office guys and all that. I got pretty comfortable here.”
Allen, who weighed in Friday at 329 pounds, said he is excited to work under Azzinaro and the Eagles’ staff.
“It just seemed like a good fit,” Allen said. “I came on a visit and it just kind of clicked with Coach [Azzinaro]. He seemed like a great D-line coach, a great position coach, even from one practice with him today, I can tell that he’s a tactician . He pays attention to the little things and that’s what you want from a coach as a player. I was kind of hoping I’d come here.”
In his first NFL practice, Allen quickly found areas in his game that he can improve.
“Even today, you have to learn the little nuances that you get from taking reps,” he said. “At the beginning of practice, I was lined up too close to the ball. By the end of practice, I learned that you have to line up a little further off the ball. It’s just little things like changing your stance, putting more weight back … it’s just things that as you get more reps you get more comfortable with.”
Allen likely will begin the season behind Benny Logan and Damion Square at nose tackle. Although he’ll have to fight for playing time as a rookie, he says Philadelphia is where he wanted to land all along.
“During the draft I was keeping an eye on the Eagles’ picks because I secretly wanted to come here,” Allen said. “Crossing my fingers is kind of an anxious thing to do, but it all worked out.”
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