Former Wyoming quarterback Allen made headlines from his knees this week. In a video that won’t shock many Wyoming fans, Allen threw a pass that hit a crossbar from 50 yards away — while he was kneeling.
On the one hand, highlights of Allen’s arm never get old, even though there’s already an excess of them. On the other hand, the clip has brought up a less-than-favorable comparison for Allen. Kyle Boller, a first-round pick by the Ravens in 2003, once said he could throw the ball through the goal posts while kneeling at midfield. Boller never lived up to his first-round selection, and some fear that Allen will similarly be a strong-armed bust.
Wrote Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: “When it’s pointed out that Allen completed just 56.2 percent of his passes at Wyoming, the response is usually that his lack of production was more about playing on a weak team at Wyoming than about Allen himself.
“In that respect, Allen is reminiscent of Kyle Boller, an inaccurate passer at Cal who nonetheless went in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft. The Ravens came to regret drafting Boller, who was a major disappointment, and years later, former Ravens coach Brian Billick explained that the Ravens convinced themselves they could draft Boller despite his bad stats in college because he had a bad team around him.”
As Billick tweeted a year ago: “Biggest error we made when evaluating Kyle Boller out of Cal was justifying low comp % by criticizing the talent he had around him.”
Speaking of strong-armed quarterbacks, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who was drafted out of Texas Tech in the first round last year, has heard about the Allen hype.
“I’ve seen these things with Josh, but I’m going to say I believe I have the stronger arm,” Mahomes said on Bleacher Report’s Stick to Football podcast. “I’ve never seen anyone throw harder than me with the football. Until I see it in person, I believe I have the stronger arm.”
Mahomes did enough to impress as a rookie that the Chiefs traded veteran starter Alex Smith to Washington. Mahomes said he once threw the ball 85 yards, though he had the wind backing him.
As expected, Allen will throw at the NFL Combine, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, as will Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Kiper was a fan of Allen’s before he impressed at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and he’s still a fan now. Allen remains Kiper’s projected No. 1 pick in his Mock Draft 2.0.
“I’m sticking with Allen here,” Kiper wrote. “The only way I see the Browns not ending up with a quarterback at No. 1 is if they sign Kirk Cousins, which is going to cost them around $100 million in guarantees. Then they could trade down with a quarterback-needy team to pick up more talent — and remember, they have the No. 4 pick, too.
“Allen had a strong week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, improving every day. The NFL statistical comp I make to Allen: Matthew Stafford, who completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 39 games at Georgia and still went No. 1 overall. And Stafford had better talent around him.”
Charles Davis, NFL.com
Davis, who has spoken with the Star-Tribune about Allen in the past, released his first mock draft of the year. He has Allen going to a team that has flown under the radar in the Allen sweepstakes: the Cincinnati Bengals, who draft 12th overall.
“They need help at a number of spots,” Davis wrote, “but the Bengals might not be able to resist hitting the reset button for the future with this strong-armed Cowboy.”
Peter King, Monday Morning Quarterback
King is the latest to suggest that Allen could end up in The Big Apple after the draft, going to the Giants to develop under Eli Manning.
“It could be Darnold or Josh Rosen too, obviously,” King wrote. “Much smarter NFLers than me told me in the last few days that they think GM Dave Gettleman will pass on a quarterback to fill another major need at number two overall, and I don’t doubt it. But the Giants have a 37-year-old quarterback who has been average at best for the past six years, and I don’t see New York passing on a good quarterback crop when the chance to get the next long-termer is there.
“Allen’s the kind of big, strong, developmental player (though his accuracy could be a big issue) who would be a good pupil under Eli Manning and Pat Shurmur for the next couple of years. Or less.”
Allen going first overall to the Browns might transform Cleveland into Laramie East; former Cowboy star Larry Nance Jr. was just traded to the Cavaliers. But if the Giants drafted Allen, it would make for another Wyoming connection. Recently hired head coach Pat Shurmur’s uncle, Fritz, was a Wyoming head coach in the ‘70s. Fritz’s daughter? Our very own Sally Ann Shurmur.
Ian Boyd, SB Nation
Boyd took to Allen’s defense, arguing that there’s more to his case as an NFL prospect than “He’s tall.”
“Some scouts clearly see him for his positives, and because of the supreme importance of great QB play, they talk themselves into him. Others will laugh at him going above the fourth and proclaim doom on him as the next bust.
“The reality is probably that Josh Allen has at least some of the arm and mental talent that make for great NFL QBs and, much like in college, the context he finds himself in will determine how much of his ceiling is explored.”
Bradley Ylitalo, Dynasty League Football
While few would argue that Allen hasn’t gotten his due attention as an NFL Draft prospect, Ylitalo argues that Allen is an underrated prospect on the fantasy front.
Those who participate in dynasty rookie drafts should consider Allen a sleeper, Ylitalo writes.
“Ranking 44th in DLF’s latest Rookie Top 50 Rankings, Allen is the fifth quarterback on the board and (using simple math) a projected mid-to-late fourth-round pick. ... I can certainly see why many won’t touch Allen with a ten-foot pole. I understand being wary of him, just please don’t disregard the kid altogether.”