As the NFL Draft approaches, per usual, quarterbacks are generating the most buzz. From those anointing Sam Darnold the golden boy to those who can't bet enough of Baker Mayfield's grit. But Wyoming QB Josh Allen may be the quarterback drawing the largest range of reviews from scouts. Let's try to get to the real truth about Allen.
Those who like Allen tout his massive frame (6-foot-5, 223 pounds) and huge arm. These facts are undeniable, physically, Allen is a posterboy franchise quarterback. This combination of size and strength give Allen scary upside if he can fully realize his potential. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has deemed Allen his number one signal caller and in his most recent mock, pegs the Cleveland Browns to select him first overall. Allen is also adored but many old school scouts who have a very specific image of quarterback prospects. And they look like Allen, not the 6-foot-1 Mayfield or the wiry Lamar Jackson, who play with unconventional styles but have had significantly more college success, with both taking home Heisman trophies.
Allen's critics say his draft stock is driven solely on his frame, rather than his achievements. In 11 games last season, Allen threw for 1812 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions with 6.7 yards-per-attempt, regressing significantly from a much better 2016. Furthermore, he was dreadful against "Power 5" opponents. He threw zero touchdowns and two interceptions vs. Iowa in a 24-3 loss and went 9-for-24 with 0 touchdowns and an interception in a 49-13 dismantling at the hands or Oregon. Allen defenders cite a weak supporting cast as the reason for the struggles, but in the NFL, the windows are much tighter than against a leaky Oregon defense. Furthermore, those who cite advanced statistics don't like Allen. Pro Football Focus has him as their sixth ranked QB with a grade of 74.1 (Mayfield, Darnold, Josh Rosen, Jackson, and Mason Rudolph were the top five), falling out of the first round in their most recent mock.
It is easy to see why teams would be infatuated with Allen. He has the arm strength to be a truly special in the NFL, and teams tend to think they can coach flaws out of players. If he reaches his ceiling, he will be spectacular. That said, his statistical output does not even approach the levels of the other top quarterback prospects and he struggled against top opponents.
There's a team out there that will take a chance on Allen and hand in the keys to their franchise, time will tell if he is the next Brett Favre (who had even worse college numbers) or if he will crash and burn like other boom-bust raw prospects like Jake Locker.