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Cold Takes: Rehashing the Josh Rosen vs Josh Allen debate

The reactions have been popping up again recently

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

It’s four years to the day since the Buffalo Bills picked Josh Allen as their quarterback, trading up to take the Wyoming gunslinger instead of the accurate Josh Rosen. Rosen has flamed out of the league while Allen is an MVP candidate, but reading the reactions from draft night have been super fun.

It was definitely not as cut and dry then as folks would believe now.

Rosen was the best passer in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was super-polished coming from UCLA and we even thought they might trade up to second overall to pick him. So when he was on the board and the Bills traded up, a lot of us thought it was for Rosen. He fit the mold of a pocket passer that the league was looking for at the time.

Other teams echoed our interest in Rosen. When we picked in the SB Nation Writers Mock Draft that year, Sam Darnold went first overall followed by Josh Rosen third overall. The Denver Broncos at five went Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen fell to the Bills’ pick at 12.

Our Jets blog was over the moon to pick Rosen ahead of Allen.

“A team that desperately needs a long-term solution at quarterback gets the most polished quarterback in this year’s Draft class. This pick is so obvious that it doesn’t need much analysis beyond that,” wrote David Wyatt from Gang Green Nation.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation’s NFL Draft expert at the time, agreed wholeheartedly with the pick.

“Rosen is the draft’s top quarterback, and for the Jets would be a better version of pre-injury Chad Pennington. Rosen is a smart quarterback who knows how to read the field and pick defenses apart. The knocks on him are that he’s a little statuesque in the pocket, and he has an injury history that includes a couple of concussions. But if he has a clean pocket, he is a killer,” wrote Kadar.

The problem with Rosen was that he couldn’t keep a clean pocket and the ways of the statue throwing bombs down the field were over. Bills general manager Brandon Beane either saw that coming or bet on a big step forward for Allen entering the pros from Wyoming. Luckily, our write-up stood the test of time.

12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Matt Warren: When the Buffalo Bills traded Tyrod Taylor, most observers noted that with their two first-round picks they were likely to try and move up to get a top QB in 2018. When they traded Cordy Glenn to move from 21 to 12, it further solidified the thinking. Without a trade-up possibility in this mock, Buffalo had to sit and wait for the fourth QB to be drafted, but that doesn’t mean he’s the fourth QB on their board. Allen’s big arm and measurables make him an intriguing prospect, but he’s likely going to have to sit behind AJ McCarron in 2018. Beane has mentioned a preference for arm strength over accuracy and Allen is similar to Cam Newton, who was the Panthers’ top pick franchise quarterback when Beane was in Carolina as the assistant GM. By staying put at 12 and still coming away with a QB, the Bills now have five top-100 picks remaining to build their roster around Allen.

Dan Kadar Analysis: Look, it’s understandable why a lot of fans don’t like Allen. He’s erratic, inaccurate passer who seems to be more tools and talent than skill. But it’s clear that people in the NFL like him. So much so that he’s heavily in the discussion for not only the top five, but the first pick overall. If you assume his development comes along and his skill matches his talent, he would turn out to be an excellent choice for the Bills.

Oh, and one more thing; Tremaine Edmunds went eighth overall in the SB Nation mock to the Chicago Bears, for you folks keeping track.