In the days leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, *our editorial staff will profile some of the top prospects in the Class including quarterbacks Josh Allen (Wyoming), Sam Darnold (USC), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Josh Rosen (UCLA). We will also take a look at Saquon Barkley (Penn State), Bradley Chubb (NC State) and Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame).
- Josh Allen might be a big story now, but he's lived most of his life in football obscurity. After attending Firebaugh, HS, he played for Reedley Community College before receiving little to no interest from FBS programs as only Eastern Michigan and Wyoming offered him a scholarship.
"I think that fuel has been built since going back to high school because a lot of people have always doubted him. This was a kid who didn't have any offers coming out of high school as a 6'4", 185-pound beanpole," said Robert Gagliardi, who is the senior sports editor at wyosports.net. "Then he went to junior college and put up pretty decent numbers in one year there, but not a lot of people gave him much attention. Wyoming — on somewhat a luck of the draw — was at his junior college looking at someone else and saw some potential there. They decided to take a look at him and the rest is history."
Terrific Thrower, Tremendous UpsideA surefire first-round pick in April's draft, Allen could go as early as No. 1 overall to Cleveland. But he also might be on the board when the Jets go on the clock with the third pick. In 27 games at Wyoming, Allen threw for 5,066 yards with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. There are questions about Allen's accuracy though as he completed just 56.2% of this throws for the Cowboys.
"Josh Allen is a terrific thrower of the football. He needs to work on the throws to the left," said Sirius XM Football's Pat Kirwan, a former Jets executive. "We had him for the week of the Senior Bowl. His inaccuracy issues were to the left and Jim Miller (Kirwan's Sirius XM NFL Radio's partner on Movin' the Chains) already diagnosed his feet, so we went back and looked at his feet. That's so easy to fix in coaching. You have a 6'4", 240-pound guy, who can break tackles and run. If I were in New York with that size 10 ½-inch hand that he has — unlike some of the others with their 9-inch hands — he'll be able to pump fake, hold the ball on a cold day and he'll be able to throw into the wind."
Possessing a cannon, Allen can deliver the ball to any spot on the field and he can get it there in a hurry. Gagliardi said Allen was hoping it would snow at Wyoming's pro day because he wanted to take scouts outside to show them his talents will travel. Alas there was no snow in Laramie, WY for the school's pro day, but Allen looked the part before the Jets had their own private workout with the 6'5", 233-pounder.
"Josh Allen is a guy who has tremendous upside. You look at his athleticism and arm talent," said former Jets QB Chad Pennington, who saw Allen first-hand both at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. "This is a guy who'll also need time to develop, but if you handle him correctly, he could certainly be a very productive professional in the future. I don't think you need to really focus on the accuracy issue as far as completion percentage. You need to really study those throws and see what's happening. You're also going to say he can play in cold weather, he can play in bad weather. Playing in Wyoming, it's going to be similar conditions to playing in New York. That's something that's going to be a positive that he can handle."
Teams will like Allen's competitive nature. Gagliardi, who covered him all three of his seasons in Wyoming, said teammates contend that he'll do whatever it takes to win. And Allen displayed that mentality on what started out as one of his poorest plays, an interception against San Diego State in the 2016 season where he locked in on his receiver and made a bad decision to throw it up the sideline anyway.
"The guy is returning it and it looks like he has an easy touchdown. Josh Allen runs nearly halfway across the field to make a tackle or try to knock this guy out of bounds. Not only does he knock him out of bounds, he knocks the football out before he can cross the plane," Gagliardi said. "The ball rolls into the end zone and it's a touchback for Wyoming and they get the ball back. I've seen a lot of quarterbacks make those throws and had some bad plays where it's a pick-six, you regroup and go from there. Josh Allen didn't let that happen."
Best Running Option**As a sophomore, Allen ranked fifth nationally in passing yards per completion (15.33) and he helped the Cowboys finish 25thin scoring offense while averaging 35.9 points per contest. After throwing for 3,203 yards, he debated declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft. He decided to stay on the prairie and his stats weren't nearly as impressive, missing two games with a shoulder injury and finishing with just 1,812 yards through the air as the Cowboys finished with an 8-5 mark.
But Allen also contributed to the rush game in 2017 as he paced the Cowboys with five touchdowns on the ground and his 92 carries were third on a club that mustered 3.2 yards a carry. Wyoming finished 117th out of 129 schools in rushing offense, averaging just 108.8 yards a contest.
"He runs awfully well. He ran a lot at Wyoming," Gagliardi said of Allen. "Sometimes — more often than not — he was running for his life. But there were times where Wyoming had trouble running the football last year and Josh Allen, yes he was a pro prospect, but they ran him a lot of times. Josh Allen was often Wyoming's best running option last year. The athleticism is certainly there with the arm strength and things like that. I'd say his athleticism is a little underrated, but his ability to extend plays, move the pocket and things like that are some of his stronger attributes."
Time to DevelopThe talent is undeniable. Mentored by Jordan Palmer this spring, Allen has worked on his footwork and touch. He'll also have to diagnose quickly on the next level, set protections, go through progressions and read coverages in seconds. The spotlight is only going to get brighter for this Cowboy who can sling it with the best of them.
"Josh Allen is a guy who has tremendous upside. You look at his athleticism and arm talent," Gagliardi said. "This is a guy who'll also need time to develop, but if you handle him correctly, he could certainly be a very productive professional in the future."