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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

NFL Draft Profile: QB Josh Allen

Josh Allen

Josh Allen: He literally can alternate between John Elway and Jay Cutler on the same drive.


College: Wyoming
Height/Weight: 6'5"/233
Hands: 10 1/8”

Important NFL Combine Numbers

40-Yard Dash: 4.75
Vertical Jump: 33.5"
Broad Jump: 9'11"
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.40
3-Cone: 6.90

Bio/Background (College Stats)
  • Did not receive a scholarship offer from any NCAA Division I program - FBS or FCS - prompting him to attend Reedley (Calif.) Junior College.
  • Forced to take a medical redshirt in his first year at Wyoming (2015) after breaking his collarbone. Missed the final two regular-season games of 2017 with a sprained right shoulder.
  • His 3,203 passing yards as a sophomore in 2016 is the fifth-best single-season total in school history, while his 3,726 yards of total offense in the same season ranks third.
  • With two future NFL players (Chicago Bears WR Tanner Gentry and New England Patriots TE Jacob Hollister) still on campus in 2016, Allen threw for at least three touchdowns six times.

High-end NFL Player Comp(s): Young Ben Roethlisberger
Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Blake Bortles

Best Scheme Fit: Vertical, play-action offense to take advantage of his arm strength.

Note: All times listed in parentheses in strengths/weaknesses section reflect the start time on video - via Draft Breakdown - that displays that skill/trait.


  • Prototypical frame/hand size for a NFL quarterback.

  • Rare arm strength; generates more RPMs on off-platform throws than some quarterbacks can get on their regular passes. (0:16, 0:29, 3:10, 4:05, 4:12, 6:07)

  • Makes deep and/or challenging throws on the move often appear effortless. (1:18, 2:35, 3:22, 3:34, 3:53, 4:02, 4:56, 7:37)

  • Displays more touch/accuracy on short and intermediate throws than he is given credit for. (0:42, 1:39, 2:18, 82:52, 87:49)

  • Has the ability to make subtle moves inside/around the pocket under chaos; better than advertised when it comes to reacting well to "trash" at or near his feet. (3:52, 4:40, 5:05, 7:37)

  • Shows flashes of looking off linebacker/safety. (0:38, 0:49, 11:02)

  • Very good athlete capable of hurting the defense with his legs; can be utilized on quarterback power runs like Cam Newton. (2:45, 4:37, 5:06, 5:52, 6:55)

  • Obvious competitor; strong lower body makes him hard to tackle/sack with one defender. (2:11, 3:06, 3:13, 4:16, 4:37)

  • Under center 35.2 percent of his snaps in 2017.


  • Decision-making is inconsistent at best, sometimes because he relies too heavily on arm strength (1:04, 2:27, 3:34, 4:05, 6:27, 7:40) while other times he doesn't process an advantage he's been given by the defense quickly enough. (1:00, 4:51)

  • Durability likely to be a problem; does not slide and rarely attempts to avoid contact as a runner. (0:15, 1:11, 1:23, 3:13, 5:06)

  • Doesn't have a good feel yet when he needs to wave the white flag on the current play and move on to the next one. (0:01, 0:02, 2:11, 3:13, 4:16)

  • Pre-snap recognition; has to better understand matchups/defensive leverage and needs to be better able to see blitz and/or feel pressure. (6:02, 6:28, 10:47)

  • Has a tendency to wait for his receivers to come open before releasing the ball (0:28, 0:38) and/or doesn't always marry up his feet with his throw from the pocket. (10:17, 11:31)

  • Needs to show more consistent touch on shorter throws. (3:07, 3:53, 4:48)

  • Alternates between looking off defenders and staring down his receivers. (6:22, 6:26)

  • Disturbing lack of production against only three power-conference opponents he faced in 2016 and 2017 (combined 48-of-96 for 427 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions versus Nebraska, Iowa and Oregon).

Bottom Line

Before tackling the enigma that is Allen, I'll attempt to challenge the most irrational argument critics like to use when discussing why he will fail as a pro: completion percentage. The general fan likes to talk about this stat as if it some kind of all-encompassing number. Hall of Famer Steve Young once said there was at least 40 things he needed to process before every snap when he played. There may be even more factors to take into account - even before we discuss fundamentals such as footwork - that play a role in determining completion percentage. Did his receivers drop catchable balls? How many throws did he make from a clean pocket? How often is he "under pressure"? Is the pressure in his face? How often is he throwing on the run? How many yards down the field does he throw on average? Is he throwing mostly on third down? Is he a low-volume quarterback? You get the point. Matthew Stafford had a career completion percentage of 57.1 at Georgia. Brett Favre was at 52.4 for Southern Miss. They have both done pretty well for themselves. Player evaluation should never be a stat-based endeavor - especially using generic ones - because stats cannot account for the offense the quarterback played in, what he was asked to do in it or how much control he had over it. Evaluating game tape will never be perfect either as long as the methods and people grading it are imperfect, but suggesting Allen isn't a great prospect because his completion percentage is low is lazy analysis quite frankly.

So what is Allen? Maddening. Defenses must respect the entire field every time he drops back. He shows flashes of brilliance, uncorking an anticipatory strong-armed throw maybe five NFL quarterbacks could make. One or two plays later, he fires a five-yard missile behind his tight end, stares down his primary receiver on an out route or overthrows a seam or go route by five yards. He literally can alternate between John Elway and Jay Cutler on the same drive. Moreover, even if the case is made his supporting cast at Wyoming was below-average, the Mountain West isn't exactly home to a bunch of defensive juggernauts. If we assume the last sentence is true, Allen is a first-round talent and we also buy into the notion great quarterbacks make their teammates (if not entire team) better, then should he not have been a man amongst boys in the conference?

At his best, there is no more talented quarterback prospect in this draft class than Allen, at least among "traditional" signal-callers. (Lamar Jackson should be put into his own class.) There is no question he has the physical gifts. The problem is how infrequently and unpredictable "his best" will come around. More than any other quarterback prospect in this draft, Allen needs his next offensive coordinator and/or position coach to be fully committed to developing him in the same kind of way the Kansas City Chiefs basically redshirted Patrick Mahomes. Armed with a full grasp of the playbook, a competent quarterback teacher and given the chance to build the chemistry that comes with working with the same teammates for two offseasons, I like Allen's chances of becoming a reasonable facsimile of Roethlisberger down the road. If the team drafts him hopes he will be the Week 1 answer, all bets are off. He has the highest ceiling AND the lowest floor among all quarterback prospects in this draft.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.