Share this article

print logo

Phil Simms on Josh Allen: 'I had him at the top'

Josh Allen has a big fan in Phil Simms.

Others can argue all they want that the Buffalo Bills selected the wrong quarterback with the seventh overall pick of the NFL Draft. They can insist the better choice would have been Josh Rosen or the smarter strategy would have been giving up whatever was necessary to trade up even higher for Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield.

Simms doesn't care. The former New York Giants quarterback and current CBS Sports studio analyst believes the Bills got the absolute right guy in Allen.

"I had him at the top," Simms said by phone Monday. "It wasn't like a wide gap between him and whoever else, but it was big enough for me to be convinced that he would have been my No. 1 choice at quarterback."

Simms adds this qualifier: he never met the former Wyoming star nor did he ever watch him throw in person, "which I think is important."

However, Simms – known for the instructional work he does to help hone the skills of young quarterbacks at all levels – did what he felt was the next-best thing by studying video of the Pro Day workouts of Allen and the other three quarterbacks who were projected to be taken at or near the top of the first round.

Simms' conclusion? Allen was the best, followed by Oklahoma's Mayfield, UCLA's Rosen and USC's Darnold. The Cleveland Browns made Mayfield the top overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals selected Rosen after trading up to the 10th spot, while the New York Jets landed Darnold via a trade up to No. 3.

"His Pro Day, for a quarterback, it's about as good as I've ever seen," Simms said of Allen. "I mean, he threw the ball awesome. It's not just, 'Oh, he completed seventy-nine percent of his Pro Day passes.' I couldn't care less. He was throwing footballs that nobody else could throw."

That's as close to concrete proof of Allen's superiority over the rest of the Quarterback Class of 2018 as Simms thinks anyone can find.

He also doesn't think the Bills, despite having a strong quarterback depth chart with AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman, should hesitate to give Allen as many repetitions as possible during offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games. Simms doesn't buy the notion that a rookie QB's confidence is too fragile to withstand the potential damage caused by early struggles.

Beane on Allen starting as a rookie: 'If he somehow wins the job, he wins it'

"Any young quarterback that comes in and doesn't do well and if it destroys his confidence, then you made a mistake. You shouldn't have drafted him," Simms said. "It's a game of adversity ninety-five percent of the time."

He becomes frustrated when he hears fans and media support the other quarterback prospects with what he considers flimsy observations.

"Don't tell me, '(Someone) just knows how to play the quarterback position,' because that's too big of a gamble," Simms said. "I don't want to hear, 'He's a winner,' because I'm not drafting the team or the coach or the system or the conference they play in.

"If you start talking about 'magic' before you mention, 'Oh, he's big, he's mobile, he has a really good arm, he can make all the throws, he can throw off-balance, he can throw off his right foot, he can throw on the run.' If you don't tell me something physically that gives him a chance to be a star, then I'm just going to turn around and walk away."

The popular case made for Rosen is that he's far more polished than Allen and has a better grasp of the nuances of the position.

Skeptical Bills fans are wary of the rawness of Allen's game, concluding that the team's decision-makers allowed his 6-foot-5, 237-pound frame and powerful arm overshadow his lack of accuracy. They also question the fact Allen not only wasn't dominant enough against the lower level of competition Wyoming faced but struggled against larger schools.

Simms' advice to Bills loyalists who'd rather have seen them peg a different future franchise quarterback?

"Don't be second-guessers," he said. "This is the guy that fits Buffalo. He's big, he's mobile, he's meant to live in Antarctica. He's got the fur, he can survive.

NFL Network's Brooks says Darnold, Allen fit Bills' culture

"Josh Rosen, yeah, he's very polished, but he's a little frail, he's not mobile. Josh Rosen, for the first year or so, he might be the better quarterback. But Josh Allen's not going to get smaller, he can take the punishment. He might slow down, but he's still going to be faster than all these quarterbacks we're talking about except Lamar Jackson.

"And he's got (the ability to make) all the throws on the move, which is really important in the NFL. Not that Josh Rosen doesn't have those; it's just not in him to try it that often. And the NFL is this now: everybody is moving to throw the ball. Tom Brady moves out of the pocket and feels that hole or that gap in the defense, he moves to it – right, left and whatever – to make the throw. That is just part of the game and I don't think you can have great success in the league unless you do that."

Simms is not calling Allen a perfect quarterback. Far from it.

His analysis of Allen's Pro Day video showed, while Allen's skills are more refined than his critics might believe, they're not refined enough.

"He has got an unbelievable arm, but there are a few things that he needs to do to really be a machine at quarterback, that he must fix," Simms said.

Jerry Sullivan: Josh Allen has to grow, on and off field

Two of the biggest are:

*Occasionally allowing his arm to get "a little bit too long" in his delivery. "If his hand gets too far away from his shoulders, it goes backward sometimes," Simms said. "Nobody in pro football has success doing that. Yeah, there's probably one or two (exceptions). Russell Wilson winds up and throws it like he's a baseball player, but he has huge hands, grips the ball different from everybody else and he makes it work."

*Using his feet to create a "smaller space" from where he throws. "Your right foot (for a right-handed passer) must be under you," Simms said. "That will make him a great short thrower. You can't just say, 'Oh, I'm going to give it touch' and slow your arm down. You've got to turn and be aggressive and (having the proper footwork helps allow) you to fire that ball in there and it's got to be laser-sharp and perfect."

How long will it take Allen to make those corrections?

"All he has to be is shown (what to do) and then five minutes later, he's going to go, 'Got it,' " Simms said. "And that's it."

There are no comments - be the first to comment