Josh Allen Brings a High Ceiling and a Low Floor to the Buffalo Bills' Offense
With rumblings that we could see as many as four quarterbacks going in the top five picks, things ended up going a little bit slow, with only two going in the first six.
They ended up pulling the trigger on Wyoming's Josh Allen.
Who Is Josh Allen?
2018 is a ridiculous year for quarterback prospects, and it's looking like there could be six taken in the first round alone. The quarterback position is always going to be one of the most heavily-analyzed, and even in that context, it's hard to find one that has been more polarizing than Allen.
There were rumblings that some teams had him as the top quarterback in the draft. Analysts are confident that his inefficient college numbers don't matter. From a numbers-driven approach though, his status as a top prospect appeared to be something of a head-scratcher.
Stepping in as a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2016, Allen completed only 56.0% of his passes, posting an 8.3 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) mark and a 144.9 passer efficiency rating. The marks weren't great, but for his first year as a starter, they showed some promise.
This past season saw Allen's efficiency tank, though. His completion percentage stayed consistent (56.3%), but his AY/A dropped to a less-than-nice 6.9 while his efficiency rating sat at 127.8.
numberFire's own Jim Sannes took a look at which first-round quarterback prospect was statistically superior, and it was no surprise that Allen ranked dead last in the group by a significant margin. Also on numberFire, JJ Zachariason dove into the numbers to look at whether Allen's low 60.9% college completion percentage was something to be concerned about.
The findings weren't encouraging, concluding that "in order for [Allen] to pan out as a pro, he'll have to do something that we really haven't seen in recent history." We all want to see a top quarterback prospect make history and do something special, but it's a huge risk for a team to bank on someone being a complete outlier when you're spending massive draft capital on him.
Allen's Fit in Buffalo
Peterman was only a fifth-round pick, and his -0.55 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) were the second-fewest among all passers with at least 50 dropbacks last season. He's not a threat to be the BIlls' starter, and that narrows the discussion to just McCarron and Allen.
McCarron has started only three games over his first four seasons in the NFL, serving as a backup for the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2015 season was the only one in which he threw at least 15 passes (with 119 attempts), and he did rank a solid 12th in Passing NEP per dropback (min. 100 dropbacks). That Bengals offense was a quarterback-friendly one though, and Andy Dalton ended up leading the league in Passing NEP per dropback. The Bills also didn't invest much money in McCarron, and his $3,000,000 cap hit ranks only 36th among quarterbacks for the 2018 season.
With McCarron's lack of a track record in the NFL, and with the low investment they made in him, Allen has a good shot at stepping into a starting role very early in the season, even as early as Week 1. Starting in the Bills' offense is also quietly a decent spot for Allen to get things clicking from an efficiency standpoint as well.
Kelvin Benjamin had a very efficient 2017 season, ranking 11th among wideouts with 50-plus targets in Reception NEP per target. Tight end Charles Clay also ranked 5th among the 24 tight ends that made the cut, and LeSean McCoy ranked seventh.
Of course, that efficiency was buoyed by the play of Tyrod Taylor, who was coming off a 2016 season that saw him rank 14th in Passing NEP per dropback.
Allen's physical traits certainly suggest some serious upside, and he has a decent supporting cast around him. But his poor college efficiency gives him a very low floor, which drags down the potential for output and efficiency in those players around him, as well.