The college football season is in the rear view window and Josh Allen has a degree from the University of Wyoming in hand. Gone are his walks from Prexy’s Pasture to the Rochelle Athletic Center and he is now 100% focused on football and his upcoming NFL career. No player in the history of the Cowboy football program has garnered the national attention and scrutiny that Allen has received or will receive in the coming months. The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this week is a clear illustration of that.
Allen arrived in Alabama on Sunday night in what is the first of a few steps that will lead him to the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas on April 26th. On Monday, Allen made waves doing a media tour talking to outlets from Denver to Cleveland. He then participated in three practices with his North team coached by the staff of the Denver Broncos. These drills and practices were all on live TV for all the world to see. During these practices, Allen is a polarizing NFL QB prospect. There were many credible NFL scouts who loved his skill-set and say his size, arm strength and mobility are what teams dream of. Then there are his doubters who questioned everything from his passing accuracy to his work ethic. Sitting down to watch hours of practice with frame by frame breakdowns of everything is something I could simply not immerse myself in, so I was waited for the game on Saturday to do my viewing.
At the actual Senior Bowl game (which many say doesn’t matter much), Allen showed up pretty well receiving significant playing time. He was named the most outstanding player on his team and his final stat line included 9 of 13 passing for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns with 5 rushes for 19 yards. The highlight of all his throws was probably the touchdown pass to Tyler Conklin of Central Michigan which was dropped perfectly in the back of the end zone (which you can see below). Not bad for a guy who “can’t throw accurately” I would say.
— Wyoming Cowboy FB (@wyo_football) January 27, 2018
With all this attention and focus on Allen, we simply don’t know how he will pan out as a pro prospect and that applies to everyone from armchair quarterbacks to experienced NFL scouts and General Managers. The QB position is one that is very hard to evaluate in terms of how a QB will translate from high school to college and then from college to the NFL.
Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield in this very draft class are examples of these evaluation problems. Allen contacted every school under the sun out of high school and junior college looking for a scholarship and only heard back from Eastern Michigan and Wyoming. Allen would go on to lead Wyoming to back to back bowl games for the first time since the late 1980’s and has the physical abilities to be a top 5 NFL draft pick. Baker Mayfield was a walk-on at Texas Tech and then transferred to Oklahoma (also as a walk-on) without even telling the Oklahoma coaching staff he was doing so. He would go on to win the starting job and start for three seasons, winning the Heisman Trophy in his senior year. Any school in the country could have had Allen or Mayfield and they all missed out.
The number one example of clear lack of projecting at the next level, is the 1998 NFL Draft where there was a lot of debate about who should be the number one pick between Tennessee QB Peyton Manning and Washington State QB Ryan Leaf. In a pre-draft poll, 14 of 20 NFL GMs said they would pick Ryan Leaf and I don’t even have to explain the career trajectories of both signal callers for you to understand how wrong they were.
My advice for you (and even to myself) is to block out all the noise because it is just that that…noise. There is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to QB’s in the NFL Draft. Just enjoy the process and the attention Allen is bringing to the Cowboy football program. Once the draft is completed in April, Allen will have a team and this process will begin all over again with a team who believes in him. A bulk of NFL Draft experts may doubt him but if they knew Josh Allen like we the people of Wyoming know him. They would know he is a leader, a winner and is motivated to succeed as a professional. I would not bet against him knowing his story to date because he has faced adversity at every level of his career and he is stronger for it.