Going into the 2017 college football season, NFL Draft experts were incredibly high on Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Comparisons to Carson Wentz were abundant as Allen brings good size and a good arm to the field every time he steps on the field.
Allen was seen as the prospect that may be flying under the national radar for most college football fans, but those with an eye for the NFL Draft were all in on Allen as the prospect to watch heading into the 2018 edition.
Allen’s season then saw quite a few bumps in the road with not-so-stellar production and a shoulder injury that cost him the final two games of the regular season. Despite the lackluster stats compared to expectations, Allen has remained one of the top quarterback prospects scouts have been watching.
Still, with considerable high NFL Draft stock and with a shoulder injury, the one question remaining before Allen likely heads off to the NFL was whether or not he would become the first quarterback to voluntarily remove himself from a bowl game as more and more players choose to do so prior to preparing for the NFL. This week, Allen answered that question, with Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl sharing the update; he’s playing.
“Josh and I had a long talk, and Josh is ready to play and start in this football game,” Bohl said, according to the Rapid City Journal. “He’s had several great practices, and so he’s in position to be 100 percent.”
Allen has not confirmed what his plans for 2018 are at this time, although the speculation is this will be his swan song in college football. Even though the 2017 season may not have gone quite according to plan for him, the scouts look deeper than results on the field this season when they break down prospects. NFL teams do as well, and Allen still has all of the tools that will keep NFL teams in need of a quarterback interested.
As a junior, Allen would not be eligible to play in a postseason all-star game designed for seniors like the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Game, so playing in a bowl game would serve as Allen’s last chance to show what he can do on a football field. For that reason alone, playing in the bowl game may have some added incentive and benefits for Allen before he ultimately declares for next spring’s NFL Draft.
The question to ask now is just how much value will there truly be for Allen to play in the bowl game? If Allen could have the season he had and miss two games with a shoulder injury and still have the watchful eye of the NFL looking upon him with great interest, what could he possibly gain from playing in a bowl game? For Allen, it is a chance not just to play well in one final game, but an opportunity to prove how dedicated he is to his team and to show off his burning desire to compete.
“And I can tell you this, I’ve had extended conversations with a lot of general managers, and they’ve all wanted to know about Josh’s will to win, his competitive nature, and he’s a 10 out of a 10,” Bohl said to reporters this week, helping to pump up the NFL Draft hype for his starting quarterback.
A year ago, common criticisms of big name players skipping on the bowl game was they were abandoning their teammates and thus being disrespectful to the other guys who helped those sitting out become the stars they are. Running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey received a good amount of criticism for supposedly putting their own interests ahead of their teammates.
Like Allen, both of those eventual top 10 picks battled through injury concerns in their final seasons before leaving for the NFL. The negative reactions and points of looking like a bad teammate did nothing to deter the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers from drafting Fournette and McCaffrey, respectively. After all, talent rises above any negative comments from the talking heads in the media circuit.
If Allen chose to sit out of the bowl game, he may have been on the receiving end of some similar criticisms, although his fate would likely be the same as Fournette and McCaffrey and any other player who chooses to sit out of the bowl game. Allen will get plenty of opportunities to impress NFL suitors in the NFL Draft circuit between interviews and private workouts and the scouting combine. No matter what happens in the Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan, Allen is still likely to be drafted in the first round of next spring’s NFL Draft, but now he gets the opportunity to go out on top with his teammates.