It’s done.. it’s over. The Buffalo Bills traded up to get “their guy” at QB in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft. “Their guy” is Wyoming QB Josh Allen… a big, tough, strong-armed kid from a cold weather school. Allen was the most polarizing QB option out of the concensus top tier QB prospects and the aftershock reaction from fans sinceThursday night’s pick has only reinforced that pre-draft perception.
At this point.. it is what it is. Going forward it will be a fun parlor game to compare how he does versus his other 1st round peers (Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen and Jackson) but the more relevant comparison will be .. How does he stack up against existing established NFL QBs? More specifically .. How does he stack up against the 2018 NFL playoff QBs? Let’s face it… when you draft a QB this high the expectation is that after a reasonable learning curve he will consistently have his team in the playoffs year after year. As Allen has not played a snap in the NFL yet.. and as Allen came out after his Junior year in college.. we will compare his combine numbers to relevant current qbs. We will also see how his Junior year looked vs. performances of the 12 2018 NFL Playoff QBs in their respective college Jr. years.
In this piece we will look at several factors:
- COMBINE NUMBERS / MEASUREMENTS
- PERFORMANCE/ COMPLETION PERCENTAGE
MEASUREMENTS vs. CAM/ MCBEANE
In previous articles we looked at prior year McDermott / Beane involved drafts to compare historical combine testing figures to the 2018 prospects. Based on the 2018 combine results .. and using Cam Newton as the prototype McBeane QB… it is easy to see that Josh Allen checked off the desired physical boxes.
Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were the only 2 prospects who matched 5 out of 7 categories based on historical McBeane averages. (Lamar skipped running drills at combine so we assumed Lamar would’ve been avg in running /jumping tests here for hypothetical purposes.. certainly not a stretch)
While Allen is not quite as fast as Cam.. his ht, weigh, arm and hand size all match up favorably with the former NFL MVP.
MEASUREMENTS VS. OTHER RECENT SIMILAR FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS
As shown above… Allen’s phyiscal profile matches up very closely with Newton, Big Ben and Carson Wentz. Again.. from a pure physical standpoint.. it’s easy to see why the Bills’ Brass coveted Josh Allen.
Clearly Josh Allen’s combine results/measurements put him in very good company. The other side of the coin is actual game performance and statistics. In order to compare apples to apples we will compare how the Wyoming QB performed in his Junior year vs. performance of relevant existing established NFL QBs in their college Junior Years.
VS. COMBINE MEASUREMENT PEERS
There are several notable data points to highlight here
- COMP % – Most pundits point towards Allen’s below 60% completion rate as a major concern. The chart above more precisely compares his comp % to similar recently drafted sized/speed QB athletes who have had success in the NFL. Obviously Allen’s 56% is an outlier on the low end.
- YDS/AT – You’ll often hear that Josh Allen is a “gunslinger” who likes use his big arm to go deep often. However when compared with his peers the 6.7 yds/attempt figure clearly disputes that notion. Perhaps it was the offense he ran? Perhaps it was game situations that dictated short throws? At any rate.. his YPA is not indicative of a mad bomber type.
- INTS – The most encouraging stat is the low number of INTs Allen threw in his junior year. Even if you extrapolate out to 16 games his INT numbers compare very favorably to his combine peers. This also goes against the narrative that he is a “gunslinger”
VS. 2018 NFL PLAYOFF QBS
Below is a chart showing the 12 2018 NFL Playoff Qbs .. and their respective college Jr. year completion % stats.
Clearly Allen’s college Jr. completion % is well below the average here. In fact.. his Jr. year completion percentage matches Tyrod Taylor’s… not someone you want to be linked to if you are the Bills 1st round QB pick.
Of course there are many variables that lead to success and failure for NFL QBs.
Some QBs are unable to overcome physical limitatons. As shown above it is unlikely that physical limitations will be an issue with Josh Allen. Brandon Beane stated all along that he wanted a big tall pocket QB and that’s exactly what he got. As in any sport athleticism and size are God-given variables that cannot be taught or developed and McBeane did a great job covering the bases for the Bills in that aspect by drafting the country-strong California farm kid.
Some QBs are unable to overcome mental/strategic limitations. As shown above.. based on Allen’s comparitively low Yds/Attempt and Completion % numbers much coaching attention and development will be needed to get him to playoff caliber level. As Rob Quinn stated in a previous piece Allen is an enigma.What kind of QB is he? His college tape gives few clues as to his calling card. The other QBs drafted in the 1st round have clear identities.. Mayfield the accurate timing passer, Rosen the classic smooth pro style qb, Darnold the great throwing-on-the run guy, and Jackson the homerun threat. Allen has put some amazing throws on tape.. but hasn’t shown much consistency in anything. Does Brian Daboll have the skills to bring Allen along? Do the Bills have the patience to let him take the time he needs to find an identity?
Let’s all hope he gets the coaching,time, patience and support needed to allow him to unlock his physical gifts.