Could Josh Allen be the next great quarterback to come from a small school?
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the eight weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the quarterback position. Today, we look at Josh Allen from the University of Wyoming.
Prior to attending the University of Wyoming, Allen went to Reedley College, a junior college in California. Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl recruited Allen after just one year there to come and be Wyoming’s starting quarterback. He got a chance to play right away, but after just two games he broke his right clavicle, causing him to take a medical redshirt.
He returned from injury putting together his best collegiate season with over 3,200 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Many expected Allen to declare for the NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore season, but Allen returned to school and had a relatively disappointing junior season. He played in only 11 games due to injury and finished the year with 1,812 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. Despite the disappointing year, Allen declared for the 2018 NFL draft with hopes that his talent would garner a first-round selection.
When we talk about the pros of Allen, the first thing that everyone brings up is how big his arm is. He can make any throw on the football field, which was on full display at the NFL combine. He stole the show and put his name into the conversation for top pick of the draft.
Josh Allen leads our Top 6 2018 NFL Draft QBs in terms of highest percentage of positively graded red zone throws since 2016 pic.twitter.com/Yb2So0IBF3— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 26, 2018
Additionally, Allen was the best quarterback in this year’s draft class in the red zone, according to Pro Football Focus. He had the highest percentage of positively graded throws with 37.7%. This bodes well for him in NFL evaluations because the red zone is the hardest place to execute effectively, and he has shown the ability to do so.
Allen has the prototypical NFL quarterback body. He is a legit 6‘5, 233-pound quarterback who still has the speed and agility to make plays with his feet. He ran a 4.75 second 40-yard dash, which is very good for a player of his size. Allen uses this speed to be one of the best at making plays happen with his feet, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com detailed in his scouting report. Zierlein said that one of Allen’s biggest strengths is that he can release the ball from so many different release points, which allows him to make off-schedule plays that not many other players can make.
Allen’s biggest strength is his arm, which will be enough to get him drafted high, but it might not be enough to be successful at the next level.
There are a lot of concerns when it comes to Allen. The main concern is his issues with accuracy. He has the biggest arm in the draft, but that won’t help a team if he is throwing it over the head of the receiver.
In college, Allen struggled with his accuracy as well. As a redshirt sophomore he had only a 56% completion percentage. He was expected to make a bit of a leap heading into his junior season, but when his completion percentage stayed right at 56.3%, it was a cause for pause.
Another reason this is such a huge concern is because he was playing in the Mountain West Conference, which has much lower competition than the other conferences. If he struggled that much against those defenses, how is he going to adjust to the NFL level? PFF detailed the accuracy issues in their “Three plays that defined Wyoming QB Josh Allen’s 2017 season” piece.
And finally, the ugly. Terrible decision, terrible ball placement; shouldve have been a walk-in pick six. pic.twitter.com/mORCyjrKHo— Josh Liskiewitz (@PFF_Josh) September 29, 2017
This was one of the plays they highlighted; it shows Allen throwing an off-balance pass with the pressure closing in, which should have easily resulted in a pick six. His stats show he only had six interceptions in 2017, but plays like this show that number could’ve been higher. Josh Liskiewitz details in his article how Allen hasn’t shown an ability to make good decisions with the football. He had the worst quarterback rating in this year’s class when facing pressure, which is an area he will have to improve on if he wants to be successful in the NFL.
Allen has all of the talent needed to be a starting quarterback, but if he doesn’t refine some of the issues in his game, he will never have a fair chance to show it.
And how well did each of our top 6 2018 NFL Draft QBs handle pressure in 2017? pic.twitter.com/W9ml9dqpon— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 28, 2018
What will most likely determine whether or not Allen is successful at the next level is if the team that takes him allows him to develop on his own time. He isn’t ready to be a starter from day one like some of the other quarterbacks in this class, but no other quarterback has the ceiling Allen does.
If he is given a year or two to develop his mental and physical game, he will likely end up being the best quarterback in this class. However, if a team gets impatient and throws him into action too early, it could very well destroy all the confidence Allen has and make it very difficult for him to have a long NFL career. Allen is the ultimate boom-or-bust player, and a majority of teams believe they can get the best out of him.
There are going to be a lot of teams that want to get their hands on Allen’s potential. Some people view him as the next Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Wentz. Allen is the most talented quarterback in the draft, which could push his stock all the way up to number one with the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns don’t take Allen, he could also fit well with the New York Jets at three or Denver Broncos at five. With the type of arm talent Allen has, it would be a shock if he slipped past the first five picks.
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