Over the last several years, social media has given thousands of NFL fans a platform to voice their opinions and share their knowledge on various aspects of the game. As more and more information – whether that be scheme analysis, statistical analytics or all-22 film – becomes more and more accessible, NFL fans are forming stronger opinions they back up with logic. As a result, NFL Draft coverage has risen from a seasonal topic of conversation into a major industry of its own. Film on any prospect is easily accessible for viewing thanks to sites like DraftBreakdown.com and as a result, well-thought analysis by hundreds of people, myself included, ultimately led to employment opportunities after establishing themselves as a respected source of information.
The NFL draft is an event that sparks a debate due to the simple fact that prospects are being ranked by individuals who may value certain traits than others, or have varying levels of knowledge on the game. However, the 2018 NFL draft featured one prospect that seemed to stir the pot more than any other player has in the eight years that I’ve personally covered the subject as a writer.
Before 2016, nobody knew Wyoming’s 20-year old starting quarterback Josh Allen. But Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson were names that even the most casual of college football fans knew. But to many draftniks, the 6-foot-5, 232-pound passer with a cannon for an arm was easy to present as their “sleeper” prospect that pops up prior to each season as a player to watch.
Allen threw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns, adding 523 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in 2016 – his first season as a starter. However, he completed just 56-percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions. At the time, those weren’t huge issues. He played for a terrible Cowboys team that managed to win eight games (8-6) despite having a defense that ranked 101st in points-per-game (34.1).
As the 2017 season approached, Josh Allen’s name generated more and more buzz in regards to being a legitimate prospect. Wyoming would open the season against Iowa, giving Allen a quality opponent from a Power 5 conference that he could validate himself against. Instead, he completed just 23-of-40 pass attempts for 174 yards, throwing two interceptions and zero touchdowns.
Allen’s struggles continued as the season wore on and opinions regarding his pro potential and draft stock were widespread. ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. went all in on the Wyoming signal-caller, declaring him the best quarterback prospect in the 2018 NFL draft. The majority of well-respected analysts for smaller publications disagreed vehemently. There simply was too much data supporting the argument against Allen succeeding than the opposite. He completed just 56.3-percent of his passes for 1,812 yards, throwing just 16 touchdowns and six interceptions in 11 games.
I was one of those writers that were wholeheartedly against Josh Allen. A quick search of my Twitter handle and “Josh Allen” turned up some gems.
Josh Allen. He is soooo bad lol. He's getting cam newton comps, lamar has more rushes than allen has pass attempts
— Rob Quinn (@RobQuinn619) March 15, 2018
Josh Allen=Jake Locker https://t.co/rhCM0fRBBW
— Rob Quinn (@RobQuinn619) January 18, 2018
One of the strangest dynamics of covering the NFL in the social media age is the fact that all of your previous thoughts and updates are archived for someone to pull up in the future and say, “I told you so!” when your take is wrong, or off the mark.
I’ve always been pretty transparent when it comes to owning up to my misses (just look back to my Da’Rick Rogers fan club) and attempting to learn where I went wrong in an evaluation. In Josh Allen’s case, my argument was sound. He wasn’t dominating poor competition like other highly drafted quarterbacks from weaker conferences did. Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Wentz were ridiculous throughout their collegiate careers. Furthermore, I wasn’t impressed with Allen’s mechanics at all. His footwork was sloppy and inconsistent, causing him to misfire and throw the ball off-target far too often.
But while I joined the Twitter mob in heightening Allen’s negatives, the amount of mainstream media members buying into the hype kept growing. Former Buffalo Bills General Manager and ESPN analyst Bill Polian angered many when he touted Allen as the clear No. 1 quarterback prospect, before claiming that Lamar Jackson should switch to wide receiver.
But No.1 pick and franchise savior of Cleveland Josh Allen completed 50% of his passes, 4.2 YPA, 1 TD, 8 INT vs power 5 teams! https://t.co/b4U1iAXsYb
— Rob Quinn (@RobQuinn619) February 27, 2018
But as fate would have it, the Buffalo Bills were the team to select the quarterback that I was most vocal about m disdain for. Shortly after the pick, the Bills cycle kicked in. Fans began rationalizing the selection and making excuses for Allen’s shortcomings. “Trust the process,” right?
I received so much backlash over a three-day span that I went to re-watch all of Josh Allen’s tape and dive deep into some historical data to see what I could find. I wrote what seemed like a college thesis on Allen, his traits, game film and quarterbacks that had similar collegiate careers to his and found some interesting nuggets.
Sure, Kyle Boller, J.P. Losman, Brady Quinn and Jake Locker were the passers who I believed resembled Allen the most, and the anecdote from Boller’s pro day was just icing on the cake. But the Matthew Stafford comparison made a ton of sense to me and was something that I previously hadn’t given thought to.
Fast forward to Week 3 of the 2018 NFL preseason and Josh Allen has been named Buffalo’s starting quarterback after an impressive training camp with two solid outings against the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns.
He has completed 56-percent of his pass attempts – the same rate he did in college, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance (see; Touchdown pass to Rod Streater Week 2, TD to Ray Ray McCloud Week 1). His arm is unlike any quarterback on the Bills’ roster and likely one of the most powerful in the entire NFL. Allen’s aggressiveness only makes for more excitement as he isn’t afraid to take chances and throw into tight coverage.
Overall, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by Josh Allen. I was not expecting this type of transition at all. Now, it has only been two games and he’s played 61 total snaps against opposing backups but my biggest takeaway from all of this is to stay balanced when weighing positives and negatives. Groupthink and a mob mentality can cause some to stand firm in their arguments just for the sake of staying on one side of the fence. I hope to start seeking out traits that translate to the NFL level more often, rather than seeking out flaws – which I did for Allen.
No, I wouldn’t say I’m flip-flopping. I’m on board. I was wrong.