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The Emergence of QB Josh Allen: Is He The Real Deal?

One of the most debated players in this month’s upcoming draft is QB Josh Allen. PFF’s 50th ranked player in the class with a 2017 grade of 73.6, Allen has all of the tools necessary to be a great Quarterback in the league. But on the flip side, he’s also seen by many as a work in progress that needs time to learn before he can flourish.

He has prototypical size for an NFL QB standing tall at 6’5″, one of the strongest arms you’ll ever see, can make plays on the move, and is difficult to sack. He figures to be a 1st round pick on April 26th, but is it possible that he’s not worth being drafted that high at all?

Allen started 25 games in 2016 and 2017 with uneven numbers for Wyoming. In 2016 he completed 56% of his passes throwing for 3203 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. In 2017, he started 11 games missing two due to a shoulder injury. He didn’t exactly light it up as he threw for 1812 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions finishing the season with a 56.3% completion percentage.

Where He Can Improve

These stats lead us to discuss the weaknesses of Josh Allen. As evidenced above with his completion percentages it is clear that Allen has accuracy issues. There were three games in 2017 in which he completed over 60% of his passes. This is the main knock on him as he struggles to make a lot of the throws asked of him.

His issues range from hitting his backs and receivers on short check-downs to missing throws downfield (throws traveling over 20 yards in the air). Not many if any College Quarterbacks have had success in the NFL when they are as inaccurate as Allen is.

It should be noted that Allen did not have the best supporting cast in 2017. His receivers had difficulty creating separation from opposing defensive backs and they also had issues with drops. Wyoming receivers didn’t help Allen’s cause dropping 4.8% of catchable balls according to PFF. However, in comparison, Baker Mayfield’s receivers dropped 7.1% and Josh Rosen’s 7.7%.

Another major issue is Allen played against lower level competition with Wyoming. This will make the jump to the NFL that much more difficult for him. The better the competition that he played against the worse he performed. The transition to the NFL definitely figures to be somewhat of a culture shock for him.

In addition to his accuracy woes, Allen needs to improve on his footwork, decision making and needs to stop relying so heavily on his cannon of an arm. He turns the ball over too often especially because he tries to squeeze throws into tight windows using his tremendous arm strength.

Where He Excels

So what exactly are teams seeing that makes Allen a projected 1st round pick? For a bigger QB, Allen is mobile and can make plays while he’s on the run. He ran a 4.75 40 yard dash at last month‘s combine which ranked #3 among Quarterbacks. He’s able to use his mobility to extend plays/drives. In 2016 and 2017 he combined for 727 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

Although he does turn the ball over quite a bit trying to overcompensate with his arm strength there are times that he makes the most difficult throws (deep outs, go routes) look easy. He also has a quick release and can be difficult to take down because of his size. He is similar to Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger in that regard.

Allen’s best trait which I’m sure we’ve all read about countless times the past few months is his arm strength. He made some throws at the combine that really wowed evaluators. The 21-year-old heaved a few balls 60+ yards in the air with ease. Even though his workout results were very impressive it’s his actual game tape that NFL execs should be more concerned with.

How He Fits in the NFL

The biggest issue with Allen is how he will fit into an NFL offense. It will be difficult to tailor an offense to his strengths, but with the right coaching, he can be a very good QB in the league. Josh would be better suited in a vertical passing scheme that would force defenses to account for his big arm rather than a west-coast style offense. In a west-coast offense, routes are based on timing, accuracy, and making quick reads. Those are all aspects of Allen’s game that need serious improvement.

Allen is clearly a project QB that needs the proper coaching and time to develop in the NFL. If he is thrust into action immediately he could quickly find himself suffering from the growing pains that plague most young Quarterbacks that are simply not ready to start. He could certainly use at least a season of tutelage under a veteran QB and coordinator.

Verdict

The former Wyoming Cowboy is projected to be one of the top five signal-callers drafted in the first round next week, but he’d probably be better off as at least a 2nd round pick. He has a high ceiling but he also has high potential to be a bust. He won’t be ready to start right away and he needs plenty of time to work on his craft and grow his game which isn’t ideal for a 1st round pick. Having a huge arm is a great quality but it shouldn’t be one of the main reasons as to where he is selected. Just ask JaMarcus Russell and J.P. Losman.

Whichever team drafts Josh Allen will be taking on a major project and they’ll have big questions to answer. Will they start him early in the season or will they red-shirt him and let him learn? If they roll with a veteran to start the season will the fan base be clamoring for Allen if things go awry? These will be key factors to whether Josh Allen ends up being a successful NFL Quarterback or another draft bust forgotten in a few years.

Be sure to check out our mega mock draft for potential landing spots for Allen and other top prospects. 

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Thanks for Reading

Dan Ficca

Dan Ficca

Dan is from New Jersey born and raised watching the NFL is how he spends most of his Sundays. He is an IT professional by day/NFL enthusiast by night. Dan is a huge fan of the New York Jets, fantasy football, and all things NFL. One of those two has delivered him a few championships (use your imagination to guess which one.) Living near the old Giants Stadium and growing up with season tickets to witness the early 90’s Jets teams is where it all started for him. Even though he didn’t get to see the best product on the field, he’s been hooked ever since.

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