Which Quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft Class Is Statistically Superior?

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6. Josh Allen, Wyoming

Games Played: 25 | Passing Efficiency Rating: 127.8 | AY/A: 6.9 | Total QBR: 52.6

Top Statistical Comp: Blaine Gabbert

There are plenty of things to like about Josh Allen. It's hard to teach a guy how to throw a football 66.14 miles per hour. And there are certainly advantages to being a large human being. Those advantages just didn't translate into much on the field this year.

Among players in this class, Allen is last in every category except for games played. There, he is instead tied for last with Darnold.

In the section on Mayfield, we listed his ranks out of our sample of 54 quarterbacks in each of the categories. Let's do the same here with Allen.

CategoryAllen's Ranking
Games Played45th
Passing Efficiency Rating46th
Total QBR39th

His best ranking is in Total QBR. But because that's a newer statistic, not all of the older draftees have marks in that column. In fact, only 39 do. Allen is last at 52.9, and second worst is Jake Locker up at 59.0. Not great, Bob!

The explanation that has been pedaled for Allen is that he may not have been surrounded by the best talent at Wyoming. When you're going up against Power-5 teams like Iowa and Oregon, it makes sense that he might struggle (and he did mightily). So, let's try to account for that and look exclusively at games within Wyoming's own conference, the Mountain West.

In doing this, we're limiting the sample quite a bit, so we're going to show the numbers he posted in conference games both in 2016 and 2017. If you want to account for talent, this would seemingly be the best way to do so. It just doesn't really scrub all the stink off of Allen's numbers.

Versus MWCTDsINTsPass. Eff. RatingAY/A
In 2016207151.79.4
In 201783127.36.9

In 2016, Allen's numbers were at least passable in conference play, though he still fell well short of the marks by Mayfield and Rudolph. In 2017, he just completely fell off the table. It does muddy the waters here quite a bit.

If you're looking for a reason to buy in on Allen, you can look at his 2016 numbers in conference play. He was solid there when his surrounding situation was less of a disadvantage. And we know he has the measurables. Is that enough to make him worthy of being a top-10 pick?

The odds do still seem to be stacked against Allen. He's surely not the only passer to have a lack of talent around him in college, but most of the former first-round picks still managed to put up better numbers than he did. It's certainly an excuse, but you're making a pretty sizable leap if you assume that explains all of his struggles.

We know from the numbers at the beginning that collegiate statistics are generally pretty solid at illustrating a player's ability. But that doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. It bears investigating how often players from Allen's statistical range wind up thriving in the NFL.

Since 2000, there are 11 quarterbacks who have been drafted in the first round who had a final-year AY/A below 7.5 (remember, Allen was at 6.9). Of those 11, 7 never logged a top-15 season in the NFL, and 8 were never inside the top 10. That means 63.64% of the players with an AY/A below 7.5 have never made it in the top 15 compared to 26.47% of the guys with marks higher than that. If you're drafting Allen, you're assuming he's an exception to the rule, which is a bold assertion to make.

That said, this does mean we do have three exceptions to work with. One was Michael Vick, who also had an impressive arm hurling the football, but his athleticism would seemingly be a wee bit beyond that of Allen. The others are Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan. Cutler has been in the top 10 in just 1 of his 10 qualified seasons, and he has been in the top 15 just twice. Ryan's a definite success with three top-five finishes and eight in the top 10. He does give Allen some hope, but again, you're banking on an outlier.

You can talk yourself into Allen if you try hard enough. If you believe he was bogged down by his team and his numbers against tougher competition, then you can craft a narrative in which he looks attractive as a prospect. But that's not really an exercise you need to go through with guys like Mayfield or Rudolph. So if you're in need of a quarterback, and Rosen and Darnold are already off the board, why would you go with Allen over one of those other guys instead?

NFL teams and coaches believe they can craft someone with Allen's physical traits into a great quarterback, and maybe they're right. We've seen it before. But plenty of other coaches have gambled on quarterbacks with poor statistics in the past, and more often than not, it has wound up burning them. By taking this risk, you are betting against history and the numbers. Allen undoubtedly has talent, but there are plenty more questions that need to be answered before he can be a defensible pick early in the first round.