The scuttlebutt about the picks at the top of the NFL Draft is unrelenting, and increasingly Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen’s name is tied to the very top. What began as an exercise in projection from the likes of Mel Kiper has received support from draftniks of all backgrounds to the point where it might be more surprising if Allen’s name wasn’t called first overall at the podium Thursday night.
There are plenty of physical reasons for that projection. Allen has an absolute cannon for an arm and was terrifically successful in his first season at Wyoming. It was his second campaign that caused his draft stock plenty of trouble.
After a redshirt sophomore campaign that included 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, Allen had a much more pedestrian 16 touchdowns and 6 picks in 2017. Yet according to his high school coach, it’s precisely those struggles that could make him the perfect fit for the team on top of the draft board.
“I have a lot of people trying to tell me, ‘Hey, if you talk to Josh, tell him not to go to the Browns,’” Firebaugh (Calif.) coach Bill Magnusson told the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. “I say, ‘Why would I tell him that?’ [They say], ‘Well, he could be in the Super Bowl in two years if he goes here or if he goes there,’ and they have all these theories. I don’t believe that. A lot of people are down on the Browns. They didn’t win a game [last year]. His M.O. is he doesn’t care.
“He’s like a diamond. He’s been under heat, he’s been under pressure and he comes out shining. The franchise that gets him, look out. He can change a culture. He can take a bad team and made it good, and he can take a good team and make it great.”
Magnusson apparently saw that transformation firsthand. When Allen arrived at Firebaugh he was a scrappy, competitive passer who stood just 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds. He grew to be 6-foot-3, 185 by his senior year before adding additional bulk during his three seasons at Wyoming; he now stands a shade under 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds.
Yet it was Allen’s work ethic which Magnusson says made that possible. According to the Beacon Journal, Allen is the son of a farmer who happily channels the slights against him and his upbringing into success on the field.
As a result, Magnusson is convinced that whoever takes Allen on Thursday, whether it’s Cleveland at number one or Buffalo or Miami near the midway point of the first round, Allen will excel.
“He’s a real worker, and he works with a chip on his shoulder,” Magnusson said. “It’s just kind of the way he grew up. Everybody underrated him and didn’t really look at him because of his size. They didn’t look at his athletic ability, and they didn’t look at his heart. That’s something that sticks with you, and he has something to prove every day.”