In the time it will take you to read this sentence, it’s likely three or four new NFL mock drafts popped up on the internet. They’ll all have different opinions, and I’ve yet to see one go 32 for 32.
However, ESPN’s Mel Kiper is still the godfather of NFL draft coverage, and he still does it very well. So when he had Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen going No. 1 overall in his first mock draft, it’s at least worth mentioning.
“I’ve gone back and forth a few times on Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Allen, but I just moved Allen up to my No. 1 quarterback,” Kiper wrote. “His numbers aren’t impressive, I know. But the NFL is all about projection, and he has a high ceiling.”
And those last two sentences, in a nutshell, is why Allen will be the most debated player in this draft.
The numbers really weren’t great. He had 16 touchdowns and six interceptions playing in the Mountain West Conference. He completed just 56.3 percent of his passes and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that if someone is inaccurate in college they rarely become accurate in the NFL. He wasn’t even first- or second-team all-Mountain West this season. Injuries played a role in that. However, if you’re going to draft a quarterback first overall, you’d feel more comfortable if he had a better season than Nick Stevens at Colorado State or Brett Rypien at Boise State.
However, scouts have not budged on Allen even though he wasn’t great this past season. He’s still big, athletic and can throw a football through a wall. Anyone who watched the Potato Bowl saw why NFL scouts see past the production and just marvel at the potential. Allen played very well and made some high-level throws.
We’ll probably see everyone’s rankings change over the next few months. Kiper once had Johnny Manziel first overall in a January mock draft, so his rankings could change dramatically too. But while there will be debate about USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen, it will be a blip compared to the debate about Allen. Scouts will argue with those who can’t understand how a quarterback who rarely played well in a mid-major college conference could go first overall. It’s the ultimate potential vs. production debate.
And if the Browns, of all teams, select the most polarizing quarterback in this draft, you’ll hear about it forever.
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