When the Buffalo Bills traded up to seventh to take Josh Allen with their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, many raised their eyebrows.
The big-bodied quarterback with a cannon arm certainly possessed an upside, but the Wyoming play-caller was generally considered to be the least pro-ready of the top-level quarterback prospects in the draft.
The assumption was he would be developed quietly behind the scenes while another quarterback helmed the 2018 Bills season. However, Nathan Peterman’s season crashed and burned early on, leaving the Bills with little option but to turn to their newly drafted prospect. So far, the results have been mixed and it’s fair to say the jury remains out on Allen as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.
But despite the justified question marks, there have been signs of encouragement, both for Allen and for the Bills as a whole. The side may be +40000.00 outsiders to clinch the AFC Championship Game in the eyes of many casinos with integrated sportsbooks listed here, but it’s not all doom and gloom for the organization:
1. HE’S GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE IN THE POCKET
The biggest issue for a rookie quarterback is his ability to get comfortable in NFL-level pass protection and adapting to the reduced time allowed to QBs in the pocket at the pro level. For Allen, it’s been something we’ve seen him struggle to get to grips with, but there are certainly signs that he is beginning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It hasn’t been reflected in the pass completion stats, but that will come over time. He’s certainly not in a comfort zone yet, but he’s definitely growing in confidence.
2. HE’S USING HIS FEET WELL
Arguably Allen’s best attribute during play so far in his rookie season has been his ability to use his legs to grab yardage from broken plays. Standing at six-foot-five and weighing in at 237lbs, Allen is a big unit of a quarterback, and he’s shown he’s more than happy to tuck the ball and use his athleticism to make plays, including this superb rushing TD against Tennessee.
Indeed, his Week 12 performance against Jacksonville he rushed for 98 yards, a record for a Bills quarterback, as his contribution with his feet helped power the Bills to a 24-21 win. Long-term, his coaches will want to see him make more plays with his arm, but while he’s still finding his way, the ability
3. HE POSSESSES A DEEP THREAT
For all of the challenges, a newly drafted quarterback faces when he joins the NFL, one aspect to his play won’t be an issue: the deep ball.
He demonstrated that fact with some jaw-dropping throws during the 2018 NFL Combine, and that ability to stretch defences vertically will gradually become a more valuable weapon as he becomes more comfortable with the pace of play and the layout of the Bills’ playbook.
4. HE’S TUNING OUT THE NOISE
The critics have been out in force for Allen from the moment he was drafted ahead of Rosen and Jackson, but he has shown an admirable attitude as he has quietly gone about his work. But his performance against Jacksonville, in particular, showed that he’s not only tuning out the noise, he’s also growing in confidence.
Buffalo’s regeneration program is very much in its infancy, but given time, both in the team and in the pocket, Allen appears to have most of the tools coaches look for in a true QB1. And if he keeps steadily progressing, the Bills may well have a franchise quarterback on their hands.