Josh Allen: Armchair Scouting Report
What His Numbers Say
Here are Josh Allen’s career numbers courtesy of Sports Reference:
I also put together his final year game log, including the rank of the opposing defense based on Football Outsiders S&P+:
Allen is your “traits” quarterback prospect, which is basically a fancy way of saying he’s terrible, but teams like him, regardless. Playing in the highly touted Mountain West Conference, Allen led Wyoming to a combined 16-11 record in two seasons. However, teams are obsessed with his big arm and “raw ability”, even though that hasn’t actually translated into anything tangible. Allen has a career AYA of 7.7 on 649 attempts, and took a huge step back in his junior year versus what he accomplished as a sophomore.
Because of his conference, Allen had the benefit of playing a ridiculously soft schedule. He faced five teams ranked outside the top 100 in S&P+ pass defense, and had another contest against Gardner-Webb, who went one and 10 in the FCS. His splits against those teams are dramatic:
|Outside Top 100||6||13.2||22.3||59.1||180.2||1.8||0.0||149.3||9.7|
As you can see, Allen performed very well against the underbelly of college football, throwing zero interceptions in six games. Against all other teams (average S&P+ pass defense of 44.6), his AYA was a horrendous 4.1. To put this into perspective, Sam Darnold faced pass defenses with an average rank of 45.3, and his AYA on the year was 8.5. Based on this one simple measure, Darnold was more than twice as good against similar competition.
There is also this issue of Allen’s accuracy. His career completion percentage of 56.2, and final year completion percentage of 56.3 do not bode well for his future. As I mentioned in my write-up of DeShone Kizer last season, there is not a great history of success for prospects with a final season completion percentage under 60. To recap, here are the only players since 2000 to post a QB1 season and fall into that category:
It should be noted that Ryan, Cutler, and Taylor were all over 59 percent, and only Anderson’s final year number is worse than Allen’s. Anderson’s QB1 season has been his only quality year as a pro, and he fell on the right side of touchdown variance to get there (TD rate of 5.5 percent). The moral of this story is that Allen is falling on the wrong side of history.
Player Comparison: Mobile Ryan Lindley
Lindley is another Mountain West quarterback, who faded going from his second-to-last to final season (for Lindley, it was junior to senior). Here is how they looked over their final two years combined:
|Player||Cmp||Att||Pct||YPA||TD Rate||INT Rate||AYA|
Lindley threw the ball more often while at San Diego State, but when we look at the rate stats, they are very similar. Both players were inaccurate collegiate passers. Allen threw more touchdowns, but also more interceptions. Lindley actually comes out with the better AYA. They even have similar builds, both coming in at least six-foot-four, and 230 pounds.
The biggest difference may come in their mobility. Allen has 147 more rush attempts despite playing one less season, and has amassed 12 rushing touchdowns. Lindley has just two, and lost 3.1 yards per attempt for his career. Allen is clearly the better athlete, but they are still fairly similar players.
Ideal Landing Spot: Browns
Let’s face it, the Browns and Allen are made for each other. Cleveland is dysfunctional, and just fired one of the few intellects in the building in Sashi Brown. Hue Jackson will love Allen’s size and arm strength, and he does ask his signal-callers to throw the ball down the field often. There are talented pass-catchers such as Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku on the roster, and they could certainly lift up his play to passable. Jackson also likes to stay balanced when possible. I do not see Allen succeeding in a situation where he has to throw it 600 times as a rookie.
CURRENT 2QB FANTASY ROOKIE DRAFT PROJECTION: TOP-SIX (ROUND 3 IN 1QB LEAGUES)
As much as I don’t think he belongs, Allen is likely to be a high draft pick come April. That means a starting role, which instantly has value in 2QB formats. And much like the NFL, it only takes one person to like him for Allen to be a top-six pick in rookie drafts. I’m expecting that to happen, though I do think in sharper leagues he may slip towards the latter half of the first. In 1QB formats, he isn’t going to stand out as someone who could have immediate value, so I expect a third round ADP.
I’ve made it no secret throughout this piece that I don’t think Allen is fit to be an NFL starting quarterback. His efficiency numbers are awful, and he was unable to dominate at a smaller FBS school. I think whoever ends up drafting him will look to find another quarterback fairly quickly. As a result, my advice is you stay clear away from him in rookie drafts. Is it possible Allen pans out? Of course, and I’m certainly not rooting against a young man trying to fulfill his dreams. But I think in the long run, you will profit off of fading prospects with his overall profile. Don’t chase outliers.