There is no doubt that finding a franchise quarterback will be the number one goal for John Elway and the Denver Broncos this offseason. It’s not a matter of if, just a question of how and where the Broncos are going to find their future signal caller — in free agency, via trade or in the NFL Draft.
Yesterday, it was reported that Elway and Matt Russell were present to scout Allen in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan. As a result, many fans across Broncos Country tuned in to witness how Allen would fair against the Chippewas, whose pass defense was ranked in the top ten in college football. Now that the team has played themselves out of the position to get one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft, it appears that many have jumped to the conclusion that the Broncos should roll the dice and draft Wyoming’s Josh Allen with their first round selection in April.
#BroncosCountry seriously needs to pump the breaks on Josh Allen. A lot of tools to work with, but he is not a Day 1 starter in the NFL.— Christopher Hart (@topherhart) December 23, 2017
That’s a bold statement to make, especially if you are evaluating and projecting his NFL ability based on just one game.
In the first quarter of his bowl game performance, Allen was on fire and hit six of his first seven passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns. It was an impressive start to the game and all of social media was blowing up in respect to Allen’s impressive start. That’s the type of play that earned him preseason hype by almost every major media outlet and draft analyst across the country. For those who were all-in on Allen despite a down season, his first quarter passing prowess signified the type of player many believed he can become.
The enthusiasm for Allen began to fizzle shortly thereafter, as he was lackluster remainder of the game. The Cowboys ended up winning 37-14, but Allen wasn’t able to build upon his first quarter success. His final state line consisted of completing 11 of 19 passes for 154 yards and the aforementioned three scores. Central Michigan’s defense was able to shut down Allen and the Cowboys’ passing attack the rest of the game, and Allen was wildly inaccurate and out of touch in the final three quarters. When the opportunity came to generate drives without the help of turnovers and good field position, he certainly fell short.
Josh Allen total stat line for the 2nd through 4th quarter today:— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 23, 2017
5 of 12 for 50 yards passing, 7 carries for negative 10 yards rushing.
Let’s chalk up his performance as a mixed bag of results and realize it was far from being worthy of a top fifteen selection in this year’s draft. But we also need to take a look at what Allen has done over the course of his college career and make some comparisons to other quarterbacks with similar production in the past.
In two years as a starter for the Cowboys, Allen completed just 56.2 percent of his passes for 4,912 yards and threw 41 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. His junior season was a disappointment, but Wyoming lost a handful of offensive weapons through last year’s draft and the team’s overall talent level was certainly not on par with what he played with as a sophomore. That’s not an excuse for poor play, and one might want to pull up his tape against Oregon, Iowa or Boise State from this past year to see how poorly he did against college teams who aren’t absolute trash.
With that said, what concerns me the most, and always has been the primary issue, is his extraordinarily low completion percentage and accuracy, which respected scout and football analyst Greg Gabriel puts into perspective below.
The Josh Allen lovers can love but fact is no QB in last 12-14 years with completion % as low as Allen has had success in NFL. Most end up as very average backups or outright busts. Can’t argue w/facts— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) December 23, 2017
It’s not very often that collegiate quarterbacks with that low of a completion percentage end up magically turning things around and become quality NFL starters at the position. Historically, only Dan Marino comes to mind as a player who was able to have great success in the league, despite having a sub 60 percent completion percentage. Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko reinforced his concerns with Allen’s accuracy, and compared his lack of success in that regard to quarterback prospects over the past decade.
I checked statistically and it holds up: Under 57% completion and over 600 career attempts). NFL guys include Ryan Lindley, Andrew Walter, Derek Anderson, Christian Hackenberg, Kyle Boller, Jake Locker, Jevan Snead, Joey Harrington, Tom Savage— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) December 22, 2017
Ugly group Josh Allen is a part of. https://t.co/IkINfrIRBc
So what are the odds of Allen bucking the trend of historically poor percentage passers becoming franchise worthy quarterbacks? Quite slim. If the franchise is serious about solving their long-term need at the quarterback position, drafting Allen with their first pick is not the best course of action. The Broncos have already been down the road of selecting a physically gifted, raw quarterback with high upside. That was just two years ago when they moved up to select Paxton Lynch. Unfortunately, most fans already know more often than not where that sort of road leads — to nowhere and ultimately is a reason why they are in such a pickle at the position today.
A first round selection should be a player who has the ability to make an impact right away, not several years down the road. While I won’t argue against Allen’s cannon for an arm and other intriguing attributes, he certainly has a long ways to go in regard to development in many facets of the game before he is ready to take command of an NFL offense. Don’t fool yourselves into believing that Allen is going to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and take the league by storm like Carson Wentz did.
Moreover, Pokes fans who love Allen should pump the breaks on their expectations of him being the guy the Broncos will want to lead their team on the gridiron for the foreseeable future. He isn’t going to be the only quarterback Denver has on their radar, and according to Troy Renck, the Broncos Brass has a variety of stops in the near future to see some of the NCAA’s top passers in action during the bowl season and all-star games.
#Broncos Elway and Russell were in Idaho to watch Josh Allen. First of multiple stops. Plan to see Baker Mayfield in Bowl game as well along with others. They are casting wide net in QB search, covering all bases. Will see another potential answer on Sunday in Cousins #Denver7— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) December 23, 2017
When April comes around, the Broncos would be wise to stay away from Josh Allen. History often has an odd way of repeating itself, but the team cannot afford to waste top draft capital once again on a prospect who isn’t even close to being ready to take command of a franchise that is in desperate need of a true leader at the position. If they want to get back to their winning ways, getting a proven commodity like Kirk Cousins in free agency, despite the heinous cost, would be the quickest solution. In the event that doesn’t pan out, they certainly have the ammunition to make a big move up the draft boards to get the guy they truly covet.
At the end of the day, I’d be surprised if Allen is that guy and certainly hope he is not.