Wyoming’s Josh Allen is one of the more polarizing rookie quarterbacks drafted in the last decade.
Some scouts love his big arm, pocket presence, and mobility, and they feel he will be a perennial Pro Bowler. Others think he is the most likely quarterback to bust from the Class of 2018, citing his poor completion percentage (56.2 percent) and his 16-11 record during parts of three years at Wyoming.
Declaring for the draft as a redshirt junior, the Buffalo Bills traded up and selected Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft. They have given him every opportunity to show off his rocket arm and athleticism so far in the preseason.
We asked Football Outsiders for thoughts on what they have seen from Allen so far, and about his potential in Buffalo.
“The sky is the limit if Allen can actually be coached to play football well, which is the reason why he is ‘polarizing’ rather than ‘maligned’,” Rivers McCown said. “Because he was not even a good college quarterback. Drafting Allen in the first round was like when baseball teams used to select pitchers that threw 100 miles per hour and figured they could make them learn how to actually pitch later.”
Allen’s play has generated plenty of buzz this preseason, and he has shown a lot of potential in completing 18-of-32 passes (56 percent completion rate), for 176 yards with two touchdowns and a 92.7 quarterback rating.
This preseason success has not swayed Football Outsiders’ original pre-draft opinion of Allen: that he is a gifted athlete with all the physical tools in the world, while also representing as risky of a pick as there was among rookie quarterbacks, especially considering the decrease in his yards per attempt from his sophomore season to his junior year (from 8.6 in 2016 to 6.7 in 2017).
“Allen had the worst QBASE score of any quarterback in this draft class. He struggled to dent college defenses like Oregon and Iowa. He was drafted in the first round because he is tall and because his arm generates ridiculous amounts of velocity,” McCown said. “Every piece of empirical evidence we have on Allen leads to him being a failure. Even the big-armed guys like Joe Flacco and Derek Carr have struggled to actually complete deep balls in the NFL, and they are far more polished than Allen is at this point. If the Bills turn him into a great quarterback, awesome. I’ll be happy for them and happy for your readership. But it is incredibly hard for me to believe that will happen.”