Matt Miller is the NFL Draft lead writer for Bleacher Report and was one of the first to project Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen as a potential first-round pick. The Star-Tribune caught up with Miller to talk about what lies ahead for Allen, who is expected to leave Wyoming following his junior season. This is the second half of a two-part interview.
Brandon Foster: Does Allen have a lot to prove at the NFL Combine, or is it less about the numbers he puts up and more about people seeing him throw the ball?
Matt Miller: I think it’s less numbers, but it’s going to be exciting, because he is a very good athlete. And I took some heat, because I said athletically, I think he’s really similar to Cam Newton. And people did not like that, but I don’t think those people have actually seen him in person. I think he’s that type of athlete. So if he goes out there and — Cam ran a 4.59 or a 4.60 (40-yard dash). I don’t know that Josh is that fast, but still, physically, they’re going to be built very similarly. The arm strength is going to be there. I think that, for people who haven’t seen him, the combine is more about the media narrative for things. I think you’ll see a lot of the media change their tune between the Senior Bowl and the combine about him. But the most important aspect about the combine is the interview portion, so hopefully he knocks some of those out at the Senior Bowl and then at the combine can go in and get some more. Because for quarterbacks, it’s so important in the postseason stuff to show where you’re at mentally and what you’re like as a leader and what your character’s like. I think that’s what will be really, really important for him.
BF: Even though Allen had a down year, did he ever drop below a projected first-round pick?
MM: I don’t think so. You can find an area scout that will say just about anything. In everyone I’ve talked to, he’s from beginning to end been considered a first-round prospect. At the end of the day, he’s going to go Top 15. Everyone agrees with that, and I think anyone who’s saying something opposite of that either has an agenda or they probably actually just don’t know what they’re doing.
BF: Did you feel any personal investment in Allen this season because you had him in your mock draft so early?
MM: Well, yeah. You feel that way about a lot of players. When you’re the first on a guy, it can be good for you and it can be bad. I think for me, it showed that I have some sources who tell me things that I’m able to combine reporting with analysis, so it helped me. But in other ways, it’s been negative, because now people are like, “Oh, well you’re just trying to stick to your guns on a guy, because you were the first one on him,” which I think is kind of ridiculous. I couldn’t tell you how many guys that I’ve liked and changed my mind on after an extra year of evaluating them. It’s part of the process. So, I mean, yeah, I feel personally invested, because I think I was the first on Josh, and he was on my podcast, and I actually just genuinely like talking to him. And now that the pendulum has kind of swung and it’s trendy to not like him, those are the guys I always end up rooting for anyway. So even if that wasn’t there, I’d probably still be pulling for him.
BF: Even though Allen’s stats were down this year, do you feel like he got better as a quarterback?
MM: Man, that’s a tough question. I wouldn’t say that. I really wouldn’t. I think it’s so hard to tell, because of what was around him. So even if he became a faster decision-maker or he improved his mechanics or his accuracy, things like that, pre-snap reads, I don’t know that that’s going to show up so much, just because of what’s around him. It’s hard to see if a guy’s improved his poise in the pocket when his offensive line is the worst in the country. Just the little things that make you a good quarterback, he really didn’t have that around him this year. I wouldn’t say that he helped himself, and I really don’t know that he hurt himself either.
BF: Has Andrew Wingard’s name come up at all among juniors that could leave early?
MM: His name has come up, but really as a Day Three guy who should go back to school. I’ve been asked about him, and he’s on my list of someone to watch, but I’m hopeful that he’ll go back to school.