Josh Allen: Somewhere between boom and bust

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The quarterback class for the 2018 NFL Draft is an interesting, and polarizing group. Early in the process, opinions on all of the prospects are all over the place. None, though, simultaneously draws the praise and the ire of analysts like Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

Many of the mainstream draft “gurus” tout Allen as the top passer in the draft, and a probably first round pick. It’s said that his large frame and big arm have NFL teams drooling as well. Meanwhile, internet scouts have a much different opinion, ranking him in some cases as undraftable. It’s an interesting duality, and I decided to take a closer look to see which end of the spectrum he belongs on.

At 6’5″ and 235 pounds, Allen certainly has the look of a classic NFL quarterback. It’s also easy to see after just a few throws that he has an arm that can make any throw asked of him. He also moves well, and can extend plays, adding value. The tape, as always, will tell the story, though.

First, the elephant in the room should be mentioned. College players who have low completion percentages don’t translate well to the NFL. In 2017, Allen completed just 56% of his passes. To put it bluntly, that’s just not good enough for a top quarterback prospect. Many point out that he didn’t have a lot of talent around him, but it should be noted that he didn’t play against top competition either.

College quarterbacks who aren’t accurate generally don’t develop into accurate NFL passers. A famous recent example is Jake Locker, who finished his college career with a completion percentage of 54%. He ended up being drafted eighth overall, and only ended up lasting four years as a professional, never able to develop the accuracy needed for success.

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Here is an example of another thing that could plague Allen into the NFL. He sets his mind on his receiver immediately, stares him down, and fires. The pump fake was merely cosmetic. It winds up being an easy play for the defensive back, and he makes the interception. Allen has to be more subtle with his intentions, and more selective with his throws. It doesn’t matter how big his arm is, plays like this will fail spectacularly at the professional level.

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Here’s an example of Allen using the pump fake much more effectively. He looks left, then back to the right, fakes a short throw, then puts just the right amount of touch on the ball to drop it in for a big gain.

 

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In this clip, Allen shows off the things he can do, and do well. He steps forward in the pocket, and fires a laser into the soft spot in coverage. He makes the difficult throws look easy.

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Here’s perhaps the ultimate example of Allen’s potential. He avoids a sack, balances himself, throws across his body, and fires a bullet to his receiver. It’s plays like this that get NFL scouts drooling and considering him in the top ten.

 

Final Thoughts

Josh Allen is an intriguing player, there’s no doubt. He’s big, can move, and has a howitzer for an arm. On the other hand, he has clear accuracy issues, which, historically, hasn’t boded well for quarterbacks in the NFL.

NFL teams seem to have Allen rated as high as the top overall pick in the draft. Meanwhile, the internet draft community is the exact opposite, ranking him as low as undrafted free agent. Where does he really fall? As usual, it’s somewhere in between.

Allen definitely has the measurables, so he checks off those boxes. When he sets up in the pocket, and steps into his throw, he’s as good as anybody. However, when he leaves the pocket, which was quite a bit, things didn’t pan out nearly as often. His accuracy suffered tremendously on the move, and he didn’t have the velocity to deliver the ball safely into traffic.

NFL teams always elevate quarterbacks, especially ones with huge arms. Allen seems destined to be selected in the first round, probably in the top ten. He has a sky-high ceiling, but high bust potential as well. I would be afraid to draft him that high, but he’s too good to let fall out of day two.

He’s not as good as some say, but not as bad as others would have you believe. Draft him on day two and enjoy.

Final Grade: Round Two

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