The number of national media members discussing Josh Allen as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick likely will only continue to grow over the next few months. Matt Miller, the NFL Draft lead writer for Bleacher Report, all but started that conversation. Last January, Miller projected the Wyoming quarterback to go third overall in a mock draft, creating a stir among those who were either unfamiliar with Allen or unaware he might leave college after his redshirt sophomore year.
Allen ended up returning to Wyoming for a statistically down 2017, which has been sidetracked of late by a shoulder injury. Still, Allen is expected to declare for the upcoming draft. The Star-Tribune caught up with Miller to talk about Allen’s season and what lies ahead for the Cowboy.
Brandon Foster: Do you feel like Allen has anything left to prove in a bowl game?
Matt Miller: The way I look at it is everyone already knows who he is. I don’t think he can help himself by playing in one more game, necessarily. His draft stock is not going to swing by playing in a December 26th bowl game, or something like that. The only thing I think that would be a positive is just to show that he’s healthy. You can do that in other ways. My honest thought process on what Josh should do is not play in the bowl game, get healthy for the Senior Bowl and go down there and show in that week that he’s healthy and show off the tools. Because what makes him such a special prospect are the tools. Not the production. It’s not the stats. It’s all the things that he can do. So, go to Mobile for a week. Learn from some NFL coaches. Get himself in front of all 32 teams. Because that’s going to help him more than anything else.
BF: Do you think there is serious concern among NFL teams about his shoulder injury?
MM: I think it’s going to be OK, because it wasn’t a tear. It wasn’t anything where he had to have surgery. So you’re happy that it’s just a strain or a sprain and not a separation or anything that was going to require a lot of surgery or rehab. I think it’s OK, and every injury is always different. So that’s one of those things where you have to get in there and talk to the training staff, and then the way it’s going to work for NFL teams is every team’s doctor will evaluate Josh, and that medical staff will give him a grade of “good to go,” or, “he might be injured, but he’s going to play this year,” or, “he might be injured and he’s going to have to redshirt,” or, “this is an injury that we feel like will keep him from living up to his potential.” I would expect that he’s going to get that grade where it comes back and says he’s injured, but he’s going to be good to go. And hopefully, if we push out two months here to the Senior Bowl, hopefully by then he should be back to 100 percent.
BF: Has Wyoming’s struggles in two games without Allen shown how much he had been elevating the offense all season?
MM: In a weird way, it’s almost like a blessing in disguise, because it has definitely been eye-opening that, OK, this team is really, really bad. And that’s been the — people call it an excuse, but I think it’s been the reason that Josh took a step back this year statistically, and I’ve been saying it since the Iowa game that, “God, this team is really, really bad.” So now you have the people who have decided for whatever reason to not like Josh, whether it’s in scouting circles or in the media. I think now there’s some context to that. So it’s not just a hypothesis that, “Oh, this team is holding him down,” or, “No one would be good with this team.” Now you actually get a look at what this team is without him, and it’s pretty scary.
BF: You have Allen going fourth overall to Denver in your most recent mock draft. Do you think it would be better for him to go to a team where he wouldn’t have to play right away?
MM: I think the best thing for him is a Patrick Mahomes-type situation, where you could go somewhere and sit for a year. I had him to Denver, which might not be that situation, but they do have a couple guys in Trevor Siemian and (Brock) Osweiler and (Paxton) Lynch, so maybe he could sit and learn. But that’s probably not a perfect scenario. I think a perfect scenario is somewhere like the Chargers where he could sit behind Philip Rivers and keep a California kid in California and give him a situation where he really can sit and learn. I mean, I’m a huge fan of Josh’s. I think that he has incredible traits, but also he’s very smart, humble, dedicated. But he’s picked up some bad habits, and I think sitting for a year is going to allow him to work out those bad habits. One thing that hasn’t been talked about enough is that he’s coming from a pro-style offense, so guys like Mahomes and (Deshaun) Watson had to be taught how to take a snap from under center or call a play in the huddle. He’s going to be ahead of that curve. I’ve even said it, too. I don’t want him to play right away. But that’s more about working out some of the mechanical issues or bad habits that he’s developed and not so much that he’s not smart enough or that the offense that he’s run there isn’t complicated enough.
This is part one of a two-part interview, the second of which can be found here.