The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other passers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft quarterback rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 5.
Redshirt Junior | 6’5″ and 237 Pounds | Born May 21, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Round 1
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.75 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 6.9 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.4 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 119 in
Some draft analysts say that Allen is comparable as a non-major conference prospect to Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Wentz. That might be true, but the available data don’t support that stance: Allen has great size, but not every big quarterback from a middling program becomes an NFL starter. Exhibit A: Paxton Lynch. While Allen has the body of a prototypical passer, he doesn’t have the accuracy. In his three collegiate seasons as a starter (from first to last), Roethlisberger completed 63.3, 63.3, and 69.1 percent of his passes. In his two starting seasons, Wentz had 63.7 and 62.5 percent completion rates. Allen, though, has rates of 49.0, 56.0, and 56.3 percent — and his first season was at Reedley Community College. Think about that: Allen didn’t complete even 50.0 percent of his passes at junior college.
Allen didn’t have great talent around him in college — Wyoming was 99th out of 130 in adjusted sack rate (Football Study Hall) — so it’s hard to evaluate Allen outside of his circumstances, but his 2017 mark of 6.9 adjusted yards per attempt is not the stuff we normally see from guys who become long-term NFL starters. Based on what he’s done since graduating from high school, Allen is barely a viable prospect, and yet a number of football lifers are viewing Allen as a probable first-rounder and potential franchise quarterback.
Almost all the enthusiasm surrounding Allen is based on his potential, not production. NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks sees Allen as “an ultra-talented passer with an unpolished game.” Phrased differently: “A more dynamic version of Blake Bortles.” Per NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah, two of five NFL executives he interviewed compared Allen to Jake Locker, viewing him as a “classic boom-bust guy.” The Locker comparison is instructive: Locker is the last first-round quarterback to complete less than 60.0 percent of his college attempts, connecting on just 54.0 percent. Allen’s career completion rate is a near-identical 54.2. This seems needless to say, but it’s risky for evaluators to give a Day 1 grade to someone they readily admit is a developmental player. Allen might be drafted in the first round, but he’s almost certainly not a first-round quarterback.
The Browns have the No. 1 pick, and Allen looks like the type of quarterback general manager John Dorsey tends to like. Allen had an uneven week of practice at the Senior Bowl, but he performed well in the game and well enough at the combine. We’ve projected him to the Browns in our most recent mock draft — not because he deserves to be the first player selected but because we think he’ll appeal to anti-analytics decision-makers.
In a special edition of the Daily Fantasy Flex, Matt Waldman said that Allen is a mannequin: He might look the part, but he’s not real.
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports