When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced quarterback Baker Mayfield as the No. 1 pick in the draft last week, the collective eyebrows of University of Wyoming fans everywhere furrowed. That should have been Josh Allen holding up that Cleveland Browns No. 1 jersey.
Then, when USC’s Sam Darnold went third to the New York Jets, the fingers scratched more rigorously into the scalps of those Pokes fans.
Allen was the best quarterback in the draft; they were certain of that. He had been projected as the top pick for most of the season and even months before that. What changed? Why was he falling down the draft board?
Wyoming fans would have loved to see their beloved quarterback go first in the draft, unprecedented territory for the wave-riding Mountain West school. But when Allen’s name was finally called at No. 7, earning the QB a first-class ticket to Buffalo, New York, all fell perfectly into place.
The Bills are a perfect fit for the UW superstar.
First, the fun reason: Bills Mafia.
What college player doesn’t want to play for a fan base like that of the Buffalo Bills? Have you seen these folks? They’re nuts. I don’t mean like slamming beers and painting their chests or having some cute bloke in a firemen’s helmet kind of nuts; I’m talking slamming beers and smashing comrades through flaming picnic tables from the roof of a Winnebago kind of nuts.
These poor lads haven’t won much of anything since the Stone Age. They made four straight Super Bowls in the early ‘90s and sadly lost all of them. They earned a playoff berth last fall, the team’s first since 1999.
Yet, here these fans are, week after week, standing in the blistering cold like Stan and Matthew at an Eminem concert, cheering on their pitiful football team. Bless their hearts. Win or lose, they’re going to pack the stands for Josh Allen. That’s a good feeling for the young buck.
More importantly, though, Buffalo was a good spot for any QB to land.
As I mentioned, the Bills are coming off their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades. They play in a top-heavy division — the dreaded Patriots at the forefront. But Tom Brady’s retirement is imminent, and the Dolphins and Jets have yet to show they’re consistent contenders in the AFC East. It appears frequent losing is a thing of the past in Buffalo.
The Bills also just dealt the quarterback who led them to the playoffs, Tyrod Taylor. That was a questionable decision, at best, but the franchise appears to be piling its eggs in the Allen basket. AJ McCarron looks like the only QB who could battle Allen for the starting gig, but the former Alabama standout hasn’t shown much of anything so far in his four-year career. If anything, he’ll give Allen a little extra time to acclimate before the Cowboy takes over for good.
The Bills also pack a young receiving core, one led by 6-5 behemoth Kelvin Benjamin, who Bleacher Report ranked the 28th best receiver in the league at the end of the 2017 season. The team also drafted two wideouts — albeit in the sixth and seventh rounds — to build around their future franchise quarterback.
Finally, the Bills have defense. They led the league in passing yards per game allowed and total yards per game allowed. They were 12th in scoring defense and eighth in interceptions, so Allen should have the ball in his hands quite a bit, and he oftentimes won’t have to run up the scoreboard in order to keep up with opponents.
Crappy windy and snowy weather won’t deter Allen; he’s played in Laramie, which is like throwing touchdowns on Hoth. His defense will have his back, and his offensive schemes will allow him to use both the cannon attached to his shoulder and his legs.
Many scouts compare the Wyoming quarterback to Cam Newton and the good and bad that comes with that. Will he miss some targets? Probably. Will he get sacked trying to stretch a broken a play? Most likely.
But Cam Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl two years ago. Allen’s upside could lead a playoff-caliber Bills team into a similarly bright future, something that would seem much more unrealistic with the Browns or Jets.