NFL scouts have historically looked for traits of the “prototypical” quarterback in their prospects. Some of those sought after attributes include size, strength, a strong arm, and big hands, all of which rookie quarterback Josh Allen possesses. Although the league is gradually coming to the realization that quarterbacks can achieve success despite an absence of these physical characteristics, it appears that Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane continues to place significant value on the traditional traits of the traditional NFL passer.
In his media conference following round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, Beane was questioned by reporters about what went into his decision to draft Allen over Josh Rosen. In response, Beane, and later head coach Sean McDermott, brought up the quarterback’s stature and other physical traits on multiple occasions.
“This is Buffalo,” said Beane. “Big guy. An athlete. Really for [Allen’s] size, you look at all of the testing numbers and you look at the film. Very good athlete that makes plays in the pocket and on the run. He’s a really good kid. He is Buffalo, you guys will see that when you meet him.”
Beane doubled down the next day on the team’s One Bills Live radio show when asked what drew him to Allen. The first words out of his mouth sound familiar:
“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, he’s played in these kind of conditions,” said Beane. “You can not underestimate playing - counting our division, you’ve got ten games outdoorsthat you automatically start every year - and we know it’s windy up here.”
Clearly, the Bills’ GM was infatuated enough with the quarterback’s size, strength, and athleticism to pass on Rosen, a player with superior college statistics widely regarded as the most “NFL-ready” player in his position’s class.
Beane was later asked about Allen’s potential accuracy issues and responded with the following:
“No matter if we selected any quarterback, they all had something, a knock, on them. You’ve got to pick what you’re willing to deal with and work with. We just think his make-up is going to help him work on his flaws... The size and athleticism were some of the big strengths of Allen.”
The portion of the quote referring to Allen’s “make-up” as what he believes will help the rookie overcome his shortcomings (ie. his accuracy) again emphasizes the importance Beane places on the physical stature of quarterbacks.
McDermott also weighed in on Allen’s size when asked by the media:
“As a player, like Brandon said, what you see on tape is size, athleticism, and we know how important playing in our conditions in terms of being able to throw the football, grip the football.”
Perhaps the GM and head coach’s apparent obsessions with a passer’s size is due to the fear of having another Tyrod Taylor, a player known to miss open receivers, which many attributed to his inability to see over the offensive line. Maybe the duo believes Cam Newton’s monstrous frame was what helped him and the Carolina Panthers achieve relative success during their reigns. Whichever the case, there is no clear correlation between a quarterback’s size and success in the modern NFL given the mixed bag of results we’ve seen in recent history.
It seems like a cliche to say at this point, but only time will tell if Beane was thinking straight in placing such high value on Allen’s physical tools.