Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen is a perplexing prospect
By Joel W. Cade
The Cleveland Browns are quarterback shopping once again. Wyoming’s Josh Allen wants to be “the guy,” but is he the next Carson Wentz or DeShone Kizer?
It’s NFL draft season again with all the ridiculousness that comes with it, and Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is certainly doing his part to contribute to the circus.
During his recent appearance on Cleveland radio station 92.3 The Fan, Allen lobbied for a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by stating he would like to be the guy who turns the Cleveland Browns around.
"If I’m fortunate enough to become a Cleveland Brown, you can expect everything from me. I want to be the guy that turns around the Cleveland Browns. The guy that does that is going to be immortalized in Cleveland forever."
Allen is interested in being “the guy” in Cleveland. His talk is less bravado than quarterback Johnny Manziel’s “let’s wreck this league,” but less offensive to Browns fans than UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s looking for the “right fit.”
Nonetheless, Allen’s talk is familiar to Browns fans who by now have heard quarterbacks want to be “the guy” only to flop in the league. The thrill fans get from quarterbacks wanting to be “the guy” in Cleveland is gone.
Nonetheless, there may be reasons for Browns fan to be optimistic when it comes to Allen. For fans who remain burnt by the previous regime’s failure to draft Carson Wentz, Allen represents a chance at a small school, big quarterback redemption.
The comparisons between Wentz and Allen are uncanny. Wentz measured at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds at the 2016 Senior Bowl. In the same vein, Allen measured in at this year’s Senior Bowl at 6-foot-4 7/8 and 237 pounds. Both quarterbacks have a big frame and huge arms and Allen’s ball looks like a bullet fired out of a gun when he throws it.
Similarly, both Wentz and Allen were coached by Craig Bohl in college. Bohl was the head coach at North Dakota State for three seasons with Wentz, while also coaching Allen for three seasons at Wyoming. Both Wentz and Allen played in the same pro-style offense.
Further, both Allen and Wentz had the same issues coming out of college. Both played in smaller conferences against lesser competition. Ironically, both Allen and Wentz were labeled as having accuracy issues. Wentz completed 62.5 percent of his passes his senior year with Allen completing only 56.1 percent of his passes. Both have been labeled as having mechanics issues with their throwing motion.
Of course Wentz’ team, the Philadelphia Eagles, is now playing in the Super Bowl and the Browns finished the season at 0-16. Fans look at Wentz and dream of what might have been. Those same fans now look at Allen and see what could be.
At least one “veteran college scout” is on board with Allen as the No. 1 overall selection, according to Peter King of MMQB:
"“I believe there is no way Cleveland, at number one, will pass on [Wyoming quarterback] Josh Allen. This is Wentz reincarnated. Allen’s a perfect Dorsey quarterback. Just watch. Josh Allen, he of the very shaky junior season at Wyoming, the first overall pick four months from now. Hey, I’m just the messenger.”"
For the crowd that feels burnt over Wentz, there is now the possibility of getting “Wentz reincarnated” this season. The love for Allen is based on the projection of Allen transforming from college Carson Wentz to Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz. But take away the projections and a different story is being painted.
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Not too long ago there was a big quarterback from a big school with a rifle arm entering the draft. At 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, DeShone Kizer matches up favorably to the Wentz and Allen measurables. Like Wentz, Kizer’s collegiate completion percentage hovered in the low 60s. Like Wentz and Allen, Kizer has a rifle arm. Kizer has all the measurable a college quarterback needs to be successful in the NFL.
But there were questions raised about Kizer’s game. In particular, scouts pointed to mechanical flaws in his throwing motion. In short, he threw the football like a baseball. He will over stride on throws leading to overthrown passes. Kizer still had this flaw throughout his rookie season.
Some Browns fans are frustrated with Kizer. Even though he is a young player and there is usually a significant leap from year one to year two in the NFL, some fans would rather cut ties with Kizer heading into the 2018 season. Those same fans look at Allen and see another Kizer rather than another Wentz.
They see Kizer because Allen’s passes look eerily similar. Allen will often overthrow his receivers, and he throws a very fast and hard ball with very little touch. At Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday, receivers were dropping Allen’s passes because they were having trouble catching such a hard thrown pass. Fans will recognize this issue from watching Kizer last season in Cleveland.
Both Allen and Kizer have the same issue. Both trust their strong arm to the point of taking chances. Allen’s receivers at Wyoming did not get much separation, thus he threw the ball into coverage trying to make a play. Does this sound familiar, Browns fans? Also, Allen would take the chance that he could zip the ball into tight coverage. He would even throw the ball across his body given his confidence in his arm. In short, Allen will arrive in the NFL with roughly the same issues as DeShone Kizer.
If the Browns decided to draft Allen first overall, who will they be getting? Will it be “Wentz reincarnated”? Or will it be Kizer 2.0?
Once chosen, Allen will need to be developed into an NFL quarterback. The same process is currently underway with Kizer. Is there really that much difference between Kizer and Allen at this point in time?
Next: Joe Thomas lays out a plan for the Browns
Maybe the best move in the draft is to not draft a quarterback. The Browns could draft a top flight running back like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley to pair with a veteran quarterback to lead the team.
This would give them the opportunity to develop the “Wentz reincarnated” already on the roster.