Category Archives: 2019

DraftNasty Rewind: “Running with the Bills”- Josh Allen

Josh Allen was one of five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Like fellow first round pick, Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson, Allen can get a lot done with his legs. Under the direction of Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Allen plays with a uniqueness to the position.

In order to better understand this now NFL starter, let’s look back at our evaluation of the former Wyoming signal caller:

What makes this player NASTY? (Strengths): Prototype size. 10 1/8” hands. Good instincts. Competitive. Tough” (Corey Chavous 2018 NFL Draft Guide).

Fast forward a year and a half and these same attributes are at the top of the list when describing Allen. Take a look at this scramble for a touchdown against Miami. Immediately, what jumps out is the large hands as well as the instincts previously described, Allen is able to scramble right, palm the ball and unlike some other quarterbacks, he doesn’t look to move the chains and dive. Allen goes into the teeth of the defense and even dips his shoulder against a linebacker as he runs into the end zone.

For his career, Allen has thrown 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with a 56.7 completion percentage. He’s also run for 1,070 yards and averages 5.8 yards per carry, while losing three fumbles.

“He’s like a running back,” New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a press conference before playing the Bills this season. “He breaks tackles. He’s got good speed, good power, and he’s shifty. He avoids and breaks a lot of tackles. It’s another dimension, sixth receiver in the passing game if you will. Gives them another blocker in the running game when they have designed run plays for him.”

For his career, Allen has 17 rushing touchdowns compared to Jackson’s 12 and when the two met earlier this month, their combined 1,407 rushing yards was the most ever between two opposing starting quarterbacks. When looking more into Allen’s rushing touchdowns, you also see that he will run in it on each and every down, he has at least one rushing touchdown on each down with two rushing touchdowns coming on 4th and 5 or more.

Like a running back, Allen leaves himself susceptible to some big hits (see his scramble against the New England Patriots on third down in the fourth quarter, where he took a hit to the helmet). One of the weaknesses, we highlighted was “Allen’s reckless playing style has led to durability concerns.” Last year, Allen missed time with an elbow injury.

Digging deeper into the numbers, Allen has proven to be an effective runner on first and second down, where he averages 8.5 yards per attempt. This highlights what has been an effective recipe for the Bills offense when they’re successful: A big run on early downs, which allows for Frank Gore to get carries in short yardage situations and allows Allen to utilize the play action on second and third and short.

At the :23 second mark of the video below, we can see the athletic ability that Belichick is referring too. DraftNasty had Allen rated as the No. 4 quarterback in the draft and one reason why is that we felt his skills would have to be maximized by an offensive coordinator. Last year, during the opening week of the season versus the Ravens, DraftNasty highlighted in our in-game report some of Allen’s abilities. However, Allen had to sit behind Nathan Peterman and wasn’t given the reigns fully until the season began. A year later, Allen is the unquestioned starter and his coordinator has opened up more of the playbook. Daboll has mixed in run-pass options with deep shots to Bills speedster John Brown and uses Cole Beasley in the slot. Look at the similar play calling Daboll used when he was at the University of Alabama with then quarterback Jalen Hurts at the 2:20 mark.

The successful marriage between offensive coordinator and quarterback has led to a 9-4 season for the Bills and has them in the running for an AFC East division title, which they haven’t won since 1995. Another strength DraftNasty highlighted of Allen was his ability to run a pro-style offense with multiple shifts and two-tight end sets in Wyoming. Daboll has utilized his quarterback’s ability to handle multiple formations and has adopted the philosophy of his former mentor, Bill Belichick, who has been known to alter his schemes from week-to-week. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, through the first 10 games of this season, the Bills used 246 different offensive personnel combinations which is the fourth-most in the league behind the Dolphins, Lions and 49ers. Worth noting, the Lions and Dolphins both have head coaches who have ties to Belichick.

These multiple formations not only serve as window dressing for the defense but allow Allen to simplify his reads.

Look at how Daboll uses a motion man in the opening drive vs. the Redskins to manipulate the linebackers and allow Allen to decipher if it’s man or zone defense while tilting the formation for running plays. It’s important that the Bills play well early in situations because Allen has thrown nine interceptions to just five touchdowns with a 51 percent completion percentage when trailing. As opposed to four touchdowns and three interceptions with a 53 percent completion percentage when ahead.

As the Bills jockey for playoff positioning, we see how much Allen means to Buffalo’s offense. And almost two full NFL seasons later and we think this analysis of Allen still rings true.

“While he could use a year or two of development behind a bridge quarterback, he may be able to transition to the NFL game at a faster pace than expected. He’s an emotional, fiery player who will need to hone his footwork, timing and trajectory as a passer. We feel he’s an early-round talent capable of competing for a starting job early in his career,” according to our 2018 assessment of Allen.

DraftNasty feels like the Bills have found an adequate coordinator in Daboll, who can maximize Allen’s abilities. If the signal caller is to continue to ascend look for an improvement in his mechanics and to be more judicial when running.

2019 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: AFC West

Lock, the team’s second-round pick, finished his career with 12,193 yards passing (second in SEC history).

Denver Broncos Notable picks:  The team traded its 10th overall pick, yet still got the draft’s 21st player overall at Pick 20.  In addition, the team nabbed our 32nd-ranked player in Risner early in the second round. Although Lock was deeper on our board (54th overall), we don’t think the Broncos could have waited any longer to pull the trigger on the third-best QB in the draft.  Of the team’s undrafted free agents, Nevada’s Malik Reed has the most suddenness and could have easily been a draft pick.  For the second consecutive year, John Elway added solid players to an underrated nucleus.  Ultimately, however,  this draft’s eventual grade will come down to the development of Lock.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (20) Traded its first round pick (10th overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the team’s Noah Fant TE/Iowa 21/1st Round Although his teammate T.J. Hockenson won the 2018 John Mackey Award, it was Fant who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as voted on by the coaches. Fant’s 4.5 speed will be a welcome addition down the seams for new quarterback John Flacco.   
2 (41) Dalton

Risner

OL/Kansas State 32/2nd Round It doesn’t take long to understand the value of Risner, who despite having natural lateral quickness, needs to close off the bottom of the pocket more consistently as an outside tackle.  If he moves back into the center position (where he started in 2015), then we think he’ll challenge for a starting spot.
2 (42)

Acquired from Cincinnati

Drew Lock QB/Missouri 54/2nd Round Lock can challenge all parts of the field with range that is comparable to Joe Flacco, the man he is asked to backup initially in Denver.  We felt that the former Tiger needed a bridge quarterback and Flacco fits the bill.
3 (71) Dre’Mont Jones DT/Ohio State 33/2nd Round Jones’ outstanding footwork frequently allowed him to work over guards after gaining an edge.  For him to become a legitimate starter, he will have to play heavier at the point of attack.
5 (156)

Acquired from Minnesota

Justin Hollins DE-OLB/Oregon 202/4th Round Hollins proved during 2019 East-West Shrine practicesthat he was at least adequate as an exchange LB.  It is a big reason he took home East-West Shrine Game Defensive MVP honors.  The former Duck forced eight fumbles in school. 
6 (187)

Acquired from Carolina

Juwann

Winfree

WR/

Colorado, Maryland

425/5th Round Winfree has unique route-running skill and underrated field speed.  The former Terrapin rarely has to idle himself into patterns.  The Broncos struck gold by staying in-state a year ago with UDFA Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay and hope to do so again with its sixth-round pick.

Hardman averaged nearly 21 yards per punt return in 2018 and accounted for eight touchdowns (7 REC, 1 PR).

 

Kansas City Chiefs Notable picks: The Chiefs went into the draft looking to add pieces as opposed to having to fill them.  One position of note that the team didn’t address until Day 3 is cornerback.  Heading into the 2019 campaign, they have a rather unproven group of outside cornerbacks.  They will likely have to depend on Kendall Fuller to give them some reps on the flanks after the loss of underrated CB Steven Nelson. In addition, the team is probably depending on Emmanuel Ogbah, who has quietly posted 17 pass break-ups in his career, to be a serviceable left defensive end opposite the recently acquired Frank Clark.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (56)

Acquired from Los Angeles via New England via Chicago

Mecole Hardman All-Purpose/Georgia 72/2nd Round It doesn’t take long to determine where Hardman is inclined to work.  He can become a serious contender for playing time in the slot if he can show increased ball skills and awareness. His biggest strength is the ability to accelerate through the reception, but he left some passes on the field.  We think he is one of the top return threats in the draft. `
2 (63)

Acquired from Los Angeles

Juan

Thornhill

DB/Virginia 179/3rd Round Thornhill, a former corner at Virginia, doesn’t mind mixing it up in coverage.  His biggest weakness came when routes broke away from him (either at safety or corner).  The former high school basketball star uses outstanding leaping ability to supplement first-rate instincts.  He was used in somewhat of a hybrid role in 2018.
3 (84)

Acquired from Seattle

Khalen Saunders DT/Western Illinois 179/3rd Round Saunders has some traits that are similar to former Texas DL and current New Orleans Saints DL Malcom Brown.  An above average athlete, he was a tough block for guards or tackles.  Stamina is a bit of a question mark.
6 (201) Rashad Fenton CB/South Carolina 269/4th Round Have you ever seen a player who may not look as fast as he really is?  This is the case for Fenton, who shined as a kickoff returner at various points of his career.  His quick-footed nature and overall toughness means he could get looks at the nickel back spot.
6 (214) Darwin Thompson RB/Utah State 306/4th Round An explosive Pro Day forced evaluators to go back to the tape for Thompson.  What they found was a patient runner with enough speed to bounce runs outside.  A season that featured a 15.3 yards per reception average proved he can catch too.
7 (216)

Acquired from San Francisco

Nick

Allegretti

OG/Illinois 220/4th Round The former Illini two-time team captain started 36 straight games to end his career. We feel the right guard position gives him the best chance to earn a roster spot. Why?  He shifts his weight on opponents as well as any guard in this year’s draft.

 

Jacobs (No. 8 pictured) scored 14 touchdowns on just 154 touches in 2018.

 

Oakland Raiders Notable pick: Newly-hired GM Mike Mayock selected potential core players who add substance to the roster.  Ferrell and Jacobs both played large parts in each of their respective team’s national championship runs. Although Abram represented a personality pick, how different is he from former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph?  The selection of Crosby means the team now has a number of edge rushers to throw at teams, even if none of them would be described as a dominant game changer. Mullen, Johnson and college free agent Keisean Nixon join a cornerback group suddenly filled with young talent and depth.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (4) Clelin Ferrell DE/Clemson 15/1st Round Ferrell averaged 17 tackles for loss per year over the course of the last three seasons.  His ability to finish on the quarterback is undeniable.  The big knock on him was a relative lack of natural bend off the edge.  He is long enough to compensate.
1 (24) Josh Jacobs RB/Alabama 61/2nd Round Jacobs’ running style and receiving skill largely mirrors that of the runner who started for the Raiders the last two seasons, Marshawn Lynch when he came out of school.  He is just not as fast as Lynch was coming out of school. 
1 (27) Johnathan Abram S/

Mississippi State,

Georgia

52/2nd Round Somewhat of a Donte Whitner-type (Bills, 49ers), Abram could become a complement to fellow safety Karl Joseph.  The former Georgia Bulldog has covered the slot effectively, but we don’t think that’s a role he will be asked to man consistently in the NFL.  He will, however, be asked to lock down tight ends.
2 (40) Trayvon Mullen CB/Clemson 95/3rd Round The former high school WR has positive hand-eye coordination and timing. During his two years as a starter, he displayed a keen sense of handling man or zone assignments.  At 6-foot-1, 199 pounds, he is an adequate tackler. 
4 (106) Maxx

Crosby

DE-OLB/Eastern

Michigan

273/4th Round Crosby’s gangly, unorthodox style conjures up images of former Buffalo Bills star Bryce Paup.  For him to make it, he has to play with more sand in the pants.
4 (129)

Acquired from Indianapolis

Isaiah Johnson