When it comes to the draft, everyone wants to look smart and insightful, even prescient, and one of the best ways to do that is to find the next small school gem of a quarterback.
It is no secret that the big football powerhouses don’t always (or even regularly) produce the best quarterback prospects, and there always seems to be players who pop up out of nowhere around draft time.
Which brings us to today’s game.
Idaho Potato Bowl - Wyoming vs. Central Michigan
ESPN - 4 p.m.
While there are, of course, two teams playing in the game, and for many of them it will be the highlight of their college careers, this game is really about one player: Wyoming QB Josh Allen.
After the success of Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State, it’s little surprise that scouts have seized upon Allen. The two have a very similar build at 6 feet, 5 inches, and roughly 235 pounds. They are both also good athletes, able to run around and extend plays, while also having impressive arm strength.
All things considered, it shouldn’t be surprising that more than a few have put Allen right in the heart of the conversation for the top quarterback in the draft. Few things get scouts and draft gurus drooling like a big, tall, athletic quarterback who can throw the ball through a brick wall. And when there are direct comparisons to be made to a successful quarterback, so much the better.
And considering the New York Giants are set to have their highest draft pick in years — decades if they hang on to the second overall pick — it behooves us to study up on all potential top quarterback prospects.
Allen is coming off a disappointing season that saw him complete 141-of-251 attempts (56.2 percent) for 1,658 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. While he had to deal with a poor supporting cast, particularly on the offensive line, he had troubling performances in big games. In 2016 he threw five interceptions against Nebraska and completed just 45 percent of his passes against San Diego State for the Mountain West championship. This past season he completed a combined 47 percent of his passes with one touchdown and five interceptions against Boise State, Iowa, and Oregon.
Nothing about that suggests that he should be a first-round quarterback. But on tape, interspersed with his low points are spectacular “WOW” throws that cause people like Mel Kiper Jr. to say that Allen will be the top quarterback to come out of this class. But it is his erratic play, as well as his measurables and potential upside, that will make Allen such a challenging evaluation.
And that’s why this game is important. Bowl games are obviously big stages, and it will be important to see how he performs on this one.
It’s worth noting that Allen missed his last two games and is playing through a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.