The Redskins introduced their first two draft picks -- Alabama products Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson -- to fans during the team's Draft Day party on Saturday at FedExField.
Not in a million years did head coach Jay Gruden expect Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen to be available for the Redskins with the 17th overall pick, and not in a million years did Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson expect to join his college teammate in Washington one round later.
And yet, there they were, two friends sitting together once again, this time in the FedExField interview room, donning their identical Redskins polos and caps and answering questions for the first time as professional football players.
"I thought I got rid of him," said a smiling Anderson of Allen, showing off some of his well-documented humor and offering a window into his and Allen's long-standing relationship as defensive enforcers for the Crimson Tide.
Together they received VIP treatment Saturday afternoon, walking into FedExField for the first time as newly-minted Redskins, answering questions in front of their family members, then meeting their newest fans, giving them autographs and speaking about their excitement once more to the faithful on stage.
Each of them thanked the organization and the people responsible for bringing them to Washington, or more specifically for Allen, an Ashburn, Va., native that grew up watching Clinton Portis and Donovan McNabb, for bringing him home.
"This is truly a blessing for me, not only to play for the NFL, but to be on the team I grew up watching," Allen said, speaking for the two of them. "This is just a great and tremendous honor. It's just been a lot of hard work to this point in my life, but I would just like to say thank you. I'm excited and looking forward to going out there and getting my NFL career started with this great locker room. From the guys I met, I'm very excited."
Both of them represented more than one third of Alabama's 54 sacks last season, and each is looking forward to feeding off the other in quite the same way as they did in Tuscaloosa.
"We got to the point where we can work together, we can go out there and we call a lot of games and stuff on our own – that came with trust and time," Anderson said. "For us to be on the same team, we can just pick right back up where we left off. I know him and I know his skill set. I know when he's hot, I'm going to cover him, and if I'm rushing good, he can cover me. We pretty much have got that understanding. Like I said, man, it's a great feeling to have another dog, somebody that's going to go out there and lay it out there with you every day. That's good, too."
On Friday, April 28th, 2017, Jonathan Allen arrived at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park where he met coaches and his new teammates.
"We kind of fuel off of each other [and] feed off of each other just by our playing styles and how we go about doing it the right way," Allen added.
Allen's arrival in Washington was labeled a steal by just about every draft analyst, surprised that a consensus top-five talent would fall all the way to the 17th spot in the draft. As more teams got anxious with the limited supply of offensive talent, Allen continued to fall, giving the Redskins a no-brainer selection.
Anderson's selection had slightly more debate, according to head coach Jay Gruden, but everyone in the room was extremely impressed with his size, speed and tenacity as an edge rushing linebacker. Anderson said his nasty attitude on the field comes from the inspiration of his family.
"Those people sitting right there – my mom, my sister and my brother," he said. "I always go out there and I'm playing for them. I'm playing for something bigger than me. It ain't all about me. I don't feel like I can play this game at the level that I play it at and where I came from playing it if it was just about me."
The afternoon marked a momentary sigh of relief, capping what has been a grueling draft process that didn't let up even after playing in the National Championship game against Clemson. Both of them had to catch up their preparation for the NFL Combine as a result and stay in shape both mentally and physically.
Now, of course, the waiting is over, and the two of them can begin focusing back on what they haven't been able to do since Jan. 11: play football.
"It's cool to be able to say I can play for the Redskins. But that was then and this is now," Allen said. "This is my job and this is my business. It's so exciting and it's fun, but I'm just ready to get to work. For my family, they are so excited. Right in the backyard. It's something you only hear about in stories. Not really something we even thought could happen, so now that it happened is really just a blessing and a dream come true."