The 2017 NFL season is only at the midway point, but it’s never too early to look at what might come ahead. In the first installation of this series looking at college players who could become future Pittsburgh Steelers, we examine an intriguing 2018 NFL Draft prospect at quarterback.
Name: Joshua Allen
Weight: 222 lbs
On September 2nd, several NFL team scouts, including Pittsburgh Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert, traveled to War Memorial Stadium to watch Joshua Allen’s Wyoming Cowboys take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener. Ben Rothelisberger’s future beyond this season is still uncertain to many, but it is apparent the Steelers’ organization have made it a priority to prepare for the possibility of Roethlisberger retiring at the end of the 2017 season.
Allen’s story is one of young man that rose from obscurity to one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation. Coming out of high school, Allen did not receive any Division I offers. While playing at Reedley Community College, his offense averaged over 452 total yards per game. His 26 touchdown passes in 2014 ranked him 7th among all California junior-college quarterbacks.
His freshman year with Wyoming was a forgettable one, as a season-ending injury relegated him to just 2 games and 40 total passing yards. His sophomore year was a historic one, and one which catapulted him into the national spotlight. Allen led his Cowboys to the 2016 Mountain Division title, and helped his team earn a spot in the 2016 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. His 3,203 passing yards ranked 32nd in the nation and was the 5th best in Cowboys history. His 36 total touchdowns, which included 7 rushing touchdowns, ranked him 2nd in Cowboys history. In addition to his passing yards, he accounted for 523 rushing yards. His historic performance from last season had NFL scouts buzzing, as they projected him to be a first round pick in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.
When evaluating Allen, it became clearer how his physical attributes and natural instincts makes him desirable to any NFL team looking for a potential franchise quarterback. Many of his plays and feats are reminiscent of NFL All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as Allen’s best plays come when he scrambles outside the pocket. One of the aspects that was incredible to watch was the way Allen was able to improvise and make plays in situations when he was being pressured by the opposing defense. In viewing the clips, one will see why many NFL scouts had projected him to be a first round selection.
Arm Strength and Accuracy:
Allen’s arm strength is uncanny. His ability to throw the deep ball with accuracy separates him among the elite quarterbacks in college football. Even when he is improvising, Allen still has the ability to throw with strength and accuracy. In this particular sequence, Allen is almost sacked by the opposing defense. Allen scrambled outside the pocket to his right where he is pursued by two defenders. At the point where it seemed he was running out of bounds, Allen rotated his body and made an incredible throw, which found the Cowboys receiver for the first down. This clip is worth re-winding for several reasons: First, the throw he made was over 50 yards downfield. Second, the fact that he was able to execute the throw from such a difficult angle. Third, the fact that he had his eye on the receiver the entire sequence, thus he knew where he was going to throw. Lastly, the speed and velocity of throw, in relation to the angle in which he threw it from.
Speed and Mobility:
NFL scouts had projected Allen’s 40 time to be around 4.75. When viewing clips, Allen demonstrates the type of speed and agility to escape defenders and gain substantial yards. As noted, in his sophomore year, Allen rushed for 523 yards; this clip is a sample of how was able to do so. In this instance, Allen perfectly executes the QB option play. Note the manner in which he sells the handoff before he begins to run. Within a few seconds, he’s able to get the first down and much more before getting tackled. Although he is comfortable staying in the pocket, his feet are his best attribute and he uses them extremely well.
Having a franchise quarterback is paramount to the success of football team. Allen has the attributes necessary to help any NFL team get to the next level. For a team like the Steelers looking to find perhaps the next great franchise quarterback, Joshua Allen is definitely a good place to start.