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2018 NFL Draft NFL Opinion/Editorial

2018 NFL Scouting Combine: Why Josh Allen’s Low Completion Percentage Doesn’t Matter

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By Elliot Kennel (courtesy of The Village Elliot’s Sports Blog)

Josh Allen put up some very vanilla numbers last year for the Wyoming Cowboys. In particular, his completion percentage is under 60%.  Most of the time, NFL teams should steer clear of a guy with a low completion percentage.


I don’t think that is the case for Allen, however. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Coach Craig Bohl runs a Pro-Style offense at Wyoming rather than the Spread. Bohl’s quarterbacks will never put up the numbers that the up-tempo Spread guys put up simply because they have fewer plays and fewer pass attempts.  Bohl’s teams won with both Carson Wentz and Josh Allen, but the stats for both were unimpressive.  Bohl likes to win.  He doesn’t care about generating stats for the quarterback.

So sue the guy. But don’t blame the quarterback.

2.  Bohl uses very few dump passes to the halfback. In 2017, halfbacks Overstreet and Woods had a total of 7 passes for the SEASON.  Those passes usually have a very high completion percentage, like 70-80%, and Wyoming just didn’t use them very often.

3.  The 2016 Wyoming Cowboys graduated the team’s top 2 wide receivers, tight end and running back, losing a total of 4,800 yards.  That is an unbelievable total, 86% of the offense, and it was simply not possible to make it all up. In particular, wideout Tanner Gentry had 1,326 receiving yards and running back Brian Hill rushed for an impressive 1,860 yards. The  players who remained were much less accomplished, including wide receivers C. J Johnson (304 yards) and Austin Conway (103 yards), plus running back Nico Evans, who had a grand total of 33 rushing yards.

That’s it.

In 2017, Conway led the team with 549 receiving yards, and no running back gained as many as 500 yards.  Conway is an interesting guy, a converted quarterback who also plays for the basketball team.  He also rushed 15 times for 70 yards. That shows that they like him to have the ball in his hands, but perhaps it also shows that the team felt they needed another way to get him the ball besides through the air.

If your best guy is a converted quarterback with just a year of experience as a receiver, you’re not going to have a flying circus offense. To make a long story short, the 2017 Wyoming team was unusually weak on offense with the exception of the quarterback position.  They don’t catch very well.

4.  Watch some film!!   I have gone back and watched some games front to back, not nearly everything but at least a few.  In my opinion, Lazy sportswriters didn’t really watch Wyoming Cowboys games. They just saw the low completion percentage and say he’s inaccurate.  It’s not true.  If you watch his games, you see him place the ball where it’s supposed to be.  But his pocket breaks down frequently and he throws out of bounds to avoid the sack.

There are some Youtube videos that attempt to show negative Allen performances, but even they actually indicate the opposite.  I watched him throw a few incompletions that were dropped by inexperienced receivers, or in which the receiver obviously ran the wrong route.

One play comes to mind in which he was criticized for throwing the ball low to an open receiver.

That’s true.

But to me, he was placing it where only the offensive player had a chance to catch it and the defender had no chance to make the interception.  That’s the correct throw.  If you complete a pass and then get the receiver knocked out, that’s not going to work in the long run.  Then there are other passes where he flat out overthrows somebody or gets deked by the cornerback. But overall, I believe there is a very high percentage of throws that are on target.

5. On rare occasion, highly ranked NFL quarterbacks put up ho-hum stats in college.  Carson Wentz comes to mind, playing in Craig Bohl’s offense and winning a championship with unimpressive stats.   Matthew Stafford was first overall,  though like Allen, he completed fewer than 60% of his passes.  Dan Marino threw 23 INTs his senior year versus 17 TDs.

Stats are great, but you have to study deeper to figure out what they really mean.

To my amateur’s eye, I see an accurate passer in Mr. Allen. More concerning is that there are a lot of one-look and-then-run plays. He actually ran a lot in 2016, but calmed down a bit in 2017.  There also a few times when he locked on to a favorite receiver waiting for him to get open rather than looking for the next progression. In those areas, Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph and Josh Rosen are probably ahead of him.

This article also appears on the Browns blog, The Village Elliot’s Sports Blog here.

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