In the final buildup to the draft, we’re taking our analysis of the draft’s prospects one step further. We’re making the case for and against 10 of the players and scenarios that are linked to the Browns, who hold the No. 1 and No. 4 picks.
The case for Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.
1. Have you seen that arm?: The last few months of pre-draft buildup have been good for Allen, who has made the most of every opportunity to showcase the special arm talent he possesses. At his Pro Day last month, Allen tossed multiple passes that traveled 85 yards through the air. At the Combine, he induced a number of audible “wows” from the coaches and scouting personnel on the field. As good as this year’s class of quarterbacks is, Allen is in his own league when it comes to arm strength and the ability he has to launch those kinds of special throws both from the pocket and while he’s on the move.
2. He has the size, makeup for AFC North: At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Allen looks a whole lot like the two quarterbacks who have given the Browns problems twice a year for the past decade. That size, combined with above average athleticism, allows him to shake off pressure from within the pocket and still make a big play down the field. After multiple seasons at Wyoming, Allen also knows a thing or two about playing in cold weather and dealing with howling winds. His other top competition at the position spent their careers in Southern California and Big 12 country.
3. The Browns have the time to bet big on potential: No one will argue Allen is the most NFL-ready of this year’s quarterback class. Most will agree he’s probably the least. The offseason moves of the Browns, though, have allowed them to take a quarterback who they believe will be the best for them in the long-term, not in 2018. With the acquisitions of veterans Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton, Allen could feasibly be Cleveland’s third option at the position throughout his first year in the NFL, allowing him to hammer away at his mechanics and learn the game behind two proven pros. His upside is viewed as one of the highest in this year’s class, and he’d be coming into a situation where it could be truly harnessed.
He's got a big arm, but has he shown enough accuracy to be taken at No. 1?
The case against Allen
1. His completion percentage: Allen never finished a season with a completion percentage better than 56.3. That’s far and away the lowest number when compared to the rest of this year’s quarterback class, and it’s concerning for a signal-caller who wasn’t always airing it out down the field. Cleveland experienced the ups and downs that come from inaccuracy at the quarterback position last season, and it’s up for debate whether it will be able to be fixed in a significant way when Allen enters the NFL. “You never feel like that that's something that you can just totally fix,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said at last month’s owners meetings. “I think you can help improve it, but fix it, I think that's kind of hard to do. But at the same time, I watched him improve in some fundamental things that he needed to work on to give himself a better chance to be more accurate.”
2. He struggled against elite competition: For prospects like Allen, who spend their college careers a bit off the radar at smaller schools, games against top-flight competition gain even more importance. Unfortunately for Allen, these produced some of his worst individual performances. In a season-opening loss to Iowa, Allen threw for 174 yards and two interceptions. A few weeks later In a 49-13 loss to Oregon, Allen was 9-of-24 for 64 yards and an interception. It wasn’t much better the previous year when Wyoming boasted a better roster. One of the worst games of his career came in a Sept. 2016 loss to Nebraska, when he tossed five interceptions.
3. His on-field results don’t match rest of deep QB class: Perhaps in a less stacked year of quarterbacks, Allen’s tangible, on-field results wouldn’t matter as much. This isn’t any other year, though. Allen enters the draft with two up and down years as a starter at Wyoming while the other members of the class won championships in college football’s biggest conferences and numerous individual awards, including the Heisman Trophy. Sure, the NFL Draft is all about how a player will project at the next level. But as teams go through the final stages of the evaluation process, he provides the least number of real, on-field examples to go off.