Scouting Profile: Quarterback Josh Allen
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Weight: 237 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.75 seconds
Hand Size: 10.1 inches
One of the most heavily debated prospects in the entire draft, as some have Allen going as high as No. 1 overall, while others have suggested he’ll slip to the second- or third-round. While I don’t think he slips that far, I’m not on the side that thinks highly of Allen. He’s your prototypical big-armed quarterback that you want to love because his arm lets him do some pretty remarkable things at times, but more often than not, you’re let down.
The standout from Allen’s numbers must be his 56 percent completion rate while starting at Wyoming the last two years. Of the 125 qualified quarterbacks to play Division-I football, Allen ranked 95th in completion percentage in 2017. Against two of the better defenses he played this year (Iowa and Oregon), Allen completed just 32-of-64 passes for 234 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Arm Strength/Throwing Motion: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you’re an Allen-believer, it’s because of this category right here. Allen can throw the ball a country-mile, right over them mountains (just ask Uncle Rico). He proved that by throwing a pass from the 50-yard line while on his knees that hit the crossbar on the goal post. His arm is capable of making every throw, even while on the move to his right or left. His mechanics are part of the reason for his inaccuracy, though, as he doesn’t square up his feet and shoulders, but rather relies on his arm to do everything. Think of it like a golfer who uses weird techniques to fix their slice; if they don’t fix the core problem, they’re going to be inconsistent. Once he sets his feet and lets it rip, Allen has no issues with his arm. I do wish he’d step into his throws a bit more than he does, as he can appear to be falling backwards while throwing at times.
Accuracy: 1.5 out of 5 stars
This is the reason I’ve had trouble acknowledging Allen as a first-round pick, as arm strength can only go so far when you can’t hit your target. Granted, Allen will make throws at times that has you drooling at the capabilities, but a 56 percent completion rate while at Wyoming doesn’t lie. Part of it has to do with him throwing from odd angles and trusting his arm too much, while he’s just off at others. His short-to-intermediate throws aren’t horrible, as he can make most of those when he’s not under duress, but that’s not what a team is drafting him for – he’s not a game-manager. His arm does them no good if he can’t hit a wide receiver in stride 15-20 yards down the field on a semi-consistent basis. His accuracy takes the biggest hit when he’s rolling outside the pocket, as he’s not able to set his feet, which leads to throws that often sail. Accuracy is something that cannot be taught, as you don’t see NFL quarterbacks go from wildly inaccurate to someone who completes 62-plus percent of their passes.
Mobility: 3.0 out of 5 stars
He’s not just strictly a pocket-passer, but that’s who he’ll eventually become when his age starts to creep up. As of now, he moves similar to the way Blake Bortles does, or at the very least, the way Ben Roethlisberger did at the start of his career. Someone who can move well enough to evade some pressure, but you aren’t going to see him breaking 20-plus yard runs any time soon. Still, it’s not going to limit your creativeness in the play-calling, as he’s athletic enough to run bootlegs and can take off on a QB draw if needed. He’s a big quarterback, which makes him hard to tackle, and he’s also a gamer who isn’t going to slide if he knows he needs another yard for the first-down. His mobility isn’t really an issue, though his pocket awareness is a different story.
Pocket Awareness: 2.0 out of 5 stars
This is another area of his game that’s extremely lacking, as he’s often to late to see a blitzing linebacker or safety. Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky came out with a video recently highlighting this part of Allen’s game, as he doesn’t seem to understand protection schemes and what they mean to him. It was something I saw all too often while watching Allen’s film, as he’d get to the back of his drop and have no idea of which player was blitzing, and by the time he did see him and tried to move, it was too late. He doesn’t see ghosts, which is a positive, but he needs to see something.
Vision/Decision-Making: 2.0 out of 5 stars
Like most aspects of his game, there are things Allen will do in his decision-making that make you scratch your head. If he gets into trouble, he’d rather throw the ball off his back foot while flailing to the side than take a sack. Believe me when I say that if Allen is physically capable of throwing the ball, he will. That leaves the football very vulnerable while in the air, as his arm can only do so much. Allen must learn that he has limitations in how much he can trust his arm and needs to learn that it’s sometimes best to tuck the ball away rather than throwing a 50/50 ball. It’s also rare that you’d see him hit a wide receiver with no one within five yards. This is a category that’s often tough to rank because I don’t think his wide receivers did him any favors in creating much separation. Still, I don’t see anything special with his vision, and what we know of his decision-making puts him slightly below average.
Anticipation: 1.5 out of 5 stars
It seems as if Allen is either hitting someone on a crossing route or going deep 80 percent of the time, which really require no anticipation. When you see him try to hit a wide receiver on an out-route or a curl-route, he’ll often wait until he’s completely out of his break to throw the ball. While he gets away with it at times because of his arm, it’s going to get him in trouble at the next level, as it did against Josh Jackson when they played Iowa. His arm doesn’t require as much anticipation as other quarterbacks who have weaker arms, but the gap is too substantial, and something that Allen definitely needs to work on.
Potential Landing Spot
It seems that some think he’s destined for the Browns at No. 1, though I’ve said before that I cannot believe they’d do that. Because of that, I believe Allen slips to the Bills, who are trying to trade into the top-five according to all reports. Most don’t believe it’s possible, and while I don’t think it will happen, there’s a chance Allen slides out of the first 10 picks in the draft. If he does, the Cardinals would be another team to keep an eye on at No. 15, as they cannot be content with the combination of Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon.
The reason I’m so down on Allen is due to his lack of accuracy, as I don’t believe that’s something that can be taught at the pro-level. If he doesn’t have it by now, he’s likely never going to. It was the same case with former Titans quarterback Jake Locker who was selected inside the top-10 picks for his arm strength, even though he completed just 54 percent of his passes while at Washington. Some might say Ben Roethlisberger, and while I can understand that because of the arm/body-type/mobility early in career, Roethlisberger never had the accuracy issues that Allen does. He has a ceiling that most don’t because of his arm strength, but him reaching that ceiling is extremely unlikely.
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