INDIANAPOLIS – Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen wowed NFL coaches and scouts with his big arm Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Allen drew a rare burst of oohs-and-ahhs from NFL executives in the stands with a majestic, 67-yard bomb to Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup during the passing drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. That came right after a big, 60-yard throw to East Carolina's Davon Grayson.
It wasn't all perfect for Allen in the 75-minute workout. But his display of passing power was the highlight of the two QB sessions, which included 18 quarterbacks and 44 wide receivers.
“For starters, Josh Allen throws the ball effortlessly," said former NFL QB Brady Quinn, an analyst for Fox Sports. "You can tell it’s just easier for him to push the ball down the field. . . . When you watch these guys, Josh Allen stands out the most."
"Josh Allen, it's just effortless for him," agreed ex-Bears QB Jim Miller, analyst for SiriusXM NFL Radio. "The upside with him is tremendous. There's no doubt about it."
All of the top QBs worked out except for Southern Cal's Sam Darnold, who elected to wait until his pro-day workout to show his passing form.
In general, the top QBs all performed about as expected, except for Washington State's Luke Falk, who was uncharacteristically inaccurate. The passers were throwing to unfamiliar receivers, and NFL scouts generally take the number of completions made with a grain of salt.
"I think you get arm strength, you get quickness and a little bit of accuracy," said Denver general manager John Elway. "But obviously they are working with guys they haven’t worked with, so it’s tough to anticipate. You see the release, and it’s good to see it live and how the ball comes off."
Allen, vying to be the No. 1 overall pick, completed just 56.3 percent of his passes in college.
"He's lackadaisical on his drops because he knows he has the big arm to overcome it," Miller said. "I noticed this at the Senior Bowl, and it happened here at the combine. Everybody talks about his accuracy issues, a lot of that is his footwork. If you noticed even today, he missed to his left on a couple throws, like his first slant, his first in-cut, his first out-route, he was a little late. But when he throws to his right, he has no issues at all. So that tells me it's more of a footwork-hip issue."
Louisville’s Heisman-Trophy-winning Lamar Jackson, who some NFL executives think should switch to wide receiver, had a solid showing. The quarterbacks were pretending to take a snap from center and dropping back on their throws. This was an issue, albeit one Jackson handled fairly well.
“I think all of them look uncomfortable coming from under center,” Quinn said. “I was surprised that Lamar Jackson, even though he hasn’t played much under center, looks decently comfortable. Just from watching his three-step and five-step. . . . What you’re looking for here is anticipation, the way they drop. None of them get enough depth.”
"I thought he was fine," Miller said. "He was one of the most explosive QBs on his drops. He actually got to his depth. Like on out-cuts when you take a 5-step drop, he should be 7 yards deep in the pocket. He was every time. There was nothing concerning to me. He hit all the throws. . . . For him, his motion, his mechanics, his right elbow is always above his right shoulder, which is where it should be. He's inconsistent sometimes in not getting a perfect spiral every time. But I'm nit-picking on that. I don't think he did anything to hurt himself. He should want to start out as a quarterback."
UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield were part of the afternoon passing group. Both had solid showings. Rosen misfired twice early but had the prettiest deep throw of the afternoon group, a 60-yarder in stride to Alabama's Calvin Ridley.
"I threw two pretty awful balls I wasn’t too proud of but for the most part I threw pretty well," Rosen told the NFL Network.
“All of these quarterbacks are a work in progress," Quinn said. "This is why Josh Rosen will look the best. Not really a lot to work on.”
"I'm pleasantly surprised from what I've seen from Baker Mayfield," said former NFL QB David Carr. "He has more of a live arm than I thought."
“For a taller, longer-armed guy," Quinn said, referring to Allen, "sometimes you can get a little long with your motion because you’ve got longer extremities. He actually gets it out pretty quick. And it’s effortless. You watch him throw and he kind of turns, the ball comes out, he uses his lower body. Lamar doesn’t use his lower body. He would have a stronger arm, or it would look stronger" if he used lower body better.