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Josh Allen not sweating mock drafts but would embrace 'special' opportunity with Browns

MOBILE, Alabama -- Josh Allen was swarmed. He wasn't escaping this all-out media blitz.

The Wyoming quarterback was the star attraction Tuesday at a media luncheon that preceded the first day of practices at the 2018 Senior Bowl. Slightly off the radar as the big-armed signal-caller from the Mountain West, Allen represents one of the most intriguing prospects this annual all-star event has seen in recent memory.

Though he struggled with accuracy and consistency throughout his final collegiate season, Allen has the prototypical size (6-foot-5, 234 pounds) and skill set NFL teams covet. That upside and raw talent is enough for the likes of ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. to project Allen as the top pick in this year's draft -- a selection held by the Browns.

"It's cool, but I don't really pay attention to mock drafts," Allen said. "You go back and look at the last four or five years in quarterbacks, any team that's picked a quarterback they've traded up for. Those mock drafts never really seem to go as planned. We know that and I'm ready and prepared for anything."

From the moment the NFL became a realistic possibility, Allen has surrounded himself with a support group he believes has him on the best possible path to success at the next level.

When he concluded his redshirt sophomore season, Allen gave the NFL a thought. He consulted with Carson Wentz, a former Senior Bowl stand-out who solidified his top draft status with a strong week in Mobile two years ago. The advice he received from Wentz confirmed what Allen already knew: He wasn't quite ready.

"He just told me if you're not ready mentally, you're stepping into a locker room with 30-year-old guys, and if you're not mentally ready, it's going to eat you alive," Allen said. "I just felt that I couldn't picture myself at 20 years old last year going into a locker room with only starting one season in college football and having those guys look at me, follow me and trust me."

Before his junior season, Allen attended the Manning Passing Academy, soaking up everything he could from Peyton and Eli Manning. And though his junior season didn't go as he necessarily planned -- The Cowboys struggled through an up-and-down 7-5 season, his completion percentage regressed, some of his poorest games came in Wyoming's marquee non-conference matchups and he missed two games because of an injury -- Allen felt a different sense of calm and confidence as he looked ahead to his NFL future.

It's one he could envision in Cleveland if the Browns believe he's worthy of the No. 1 or No. 4 pick.

"To get the opportunity to go there and kind of be the guy would be special," Allen said. "They're going to do what's best for their franchise.

"Cleveland has a lot of good things going. With the young team they have you can only go up from there."

When his week in Mobile concludes, Allen will return to Southern California, where he's training with Jordan Palmer alongside USC's Sam Darnold, who is similarly projected to the Browns in numerous mock drafts. Allen and Darnold have become fast friends throughout the pre-draft process and are even living in the same house.

ESPN and other sports networks are on the TV "24-7," Allen said, so it's become customary to hear their names linked together in all of the iterations of pre-draft chatter. They've opted to embrace it without any hint of awkwardness.

"I think my play is going to speak for itself," Allen said. "We're really kind of pushing each other, building off each other. It's been fun.

"We talk a lot of football but it's nothing crazy. we're obviously there to compete and we want to be better and be the best quarterbacks we can be, there's no secret about that. But at the same time, we're not competing against each other. We want to end up in situations where it's the best fit for ourselves."

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