Last week Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN released his Mock Draft 2.0 and remained steadfast in his belief that Josh Allen will go first overall to the Cleveland Browns. He also had Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen going in the first round.
As a University of Wyoming student, I had the opportunity to see Josh Allen play more than most. Wyoming didn’t play all of its games on national television like those other three quarterbacks.
I believe that the worst place for any quarterback to end up is the Cleveland Browns, but there is a chance that Allen can be the guy for the Browns.
The largest complaint that Allen’s detractors have is that he didn’t complete enough passes while he was in college. He finished his career in Laramie with a 56.2% completion rate, and his numbers against Power 5 opponents were pretty abysmal. In contests against Nebraska, Iowa, and Oregon over two seasons, he only completed 50% of his passes and had one touchdown to go along with eight interceptions.
"Josh Allen is tall and therefore he won't have passes knocked down." pic.twitter.com/5o3R9D8Qai
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) February 25, 2018
Passes like the one above are embarrassing, to say the least, but there were also passes like the one below where his teammates didn’t make plays for him.
The lack of quality teammates is what Josh Allen supporters point to in order to defend him against those who highlight his lack of completions. This is not entirely true, but it was true in 2017 after Wyoming lost their all-time leading rusher Brian Hill, who was drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, and two of their top receivers in Tanner Gentry, member of the Chicago Bears organization, and Jacob Hollister, who is with the New England Patriots.
There was not a single skill player on Wyoming’s team in 2017 who is capable of playing in the NFL other than Allen. This is how Allen ended up trying to do more than he was capable of in order to win games.
Allen is on record as saying that he wants to go to Cleveland and be the one who turns the franchise around. This is exactly what you want to hear from a guy who wins and always competes, and it is certainly more of an endorsement than Josh Rosen provided. Before they eventually declared for the NFL Draft, it was rumored that Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen would remain in college just to avoid being drafted by the Browns. Meanwhile, Allen has relished the opportunity to be the quarterback savior Cleveland desires.
Allen’s best skills are his arm strength, his ability to improvise, and that he wins games. Whether you think Allen is the next JaMarcus Russell or the next Carson Wentz, there is no arguing that he has a strong arm.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 21, 2018
Obviously, there’s not much of a place for a throw like this in a game, but it is an impressive display of arm strength. There might be a place if the NFL adopts a rule like John Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker have proposed that a kickoff through the uprights should be worth a point. That’s an even longer shot than if you had said Allen would be the first pick in the NFL Draft someday before he had ever played a down at Wyoming, though.
These are actual in-game examples of Allen’s arm strength that make scouts salivate.
As you can see, his arm strength is on full display when he’s able to improvise. His ability to improvise is not on the same level as Johnny Manziel’s was, but it produced some of his biggest plays while he was in college.
He didn’t get the first down on that play, but as the announcer says, DUDE COMPETES.
The guy can navigate the pocket in the face of a blitz. This might come in handy playing for a team like the Cleveland Browns.
(You can see me behind the end zone in this video at 2:21 in a denim jacket and a yellow hat.)
In 2017, Allen was bothered by a shoulder injury, so he relied more on his athleticism in games. This disabled him from showcasing his arm strength, but it made for some exciting football to watch. A part of me always thought he was playing recklessly and endangering the team’s ability to win, but it also taught me that he was willing to do whatever it took to win.
In 2015, Wyoming’s football team went 2-10. When Allen took over as the full-time starter in 2016, Wyoming was picked to finish last in their division by almost every media outlet, and they ended up winning the Mountain division and finishing the regular season 8-4. They lost the Mountain West Championship to San Diego State 27-24 and the Poinsettia Bowl to BYU 24-21 to finish the season 8-6.
In 2017, Wyoming went 8-5, which was a bit of a disappointment, but Allen missed the final two regular season games with a shoulder injury. He came back for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and proved the doubters wrong by dominating Central Michigan 37-14.
When Allen takes the field, he expects to win, and it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the field. It doesn’t matter who is on his team, and that kind of belief is exactly what the Cleveland Browns need after going 0-16 in 2017.
Experts can point to the fact that Allen didn’t complete enough passes in college to succeed in the NFL, but the most important statistical measure of a quarterback is winning. Allen won no matter what the odds were.