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Josh Allen (quarterback)

Joshua Patrick Allen[1] (born May 21, 1996)[2] is an American football quarterback for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Wyoming. Despite receiving few offers out of high school and having to play one year at a junior college, Allen was eventually recruited to Wyoming, where he led the Cowboys to a Mountain West Conference division title and two bowl games. He was drafted by the Bills in the first round (7th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft, becoming the highest drafted NFL player from the University of Wyoming and the highest drafted quarterback in Bills' history.

Josh Allen
refer to caption
Allen in 2018
No. 17 – Buffalo Bills
Personal information
Born: (1996-05-21) May 21, 1996 (age 23)
Firebaugh, California
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:237 lb (108 kg)
Career information
High school:Firebaugh
(Firebaugh, California)
NFL Draft:2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 13, 2019
Completion percentage:57.4
Passing yards:4,665
Passer rating:78.8
Rushing yards:1,061
Rushing touchdowns:16
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Allen grew up on a 3,000-acre (1,200 ha) cotton farm near Firebaugh, California, a small town about 40 miles (64 km) west of Fresno, California.[3][4][5] His family has lived in the area since his great-grandfather, who emigrated from Sweden in 1907, settled there during the Great Depression.[6] The farm where he was raised was established in 1975 by his paternal grandfather, who was also a longtime member of the local school board and namesake of the gymnasium of Firebaugh High School, from which Allen graduated in 2014.[3][7]

Growing up as a Fresno State fan who regularly attended both games and football camps, Allen tried to draw the interest of the program's coaching staff; his father tried to sell the Bulldogs' head coach at the time, Tim DeRuyter, on him, but DeRuyter chose not to offer a scholarship.[8] DeRuyter was not alone in this assessment; Allen received no scholarship offers from any NCAA Division I program—whether in the top-level FBS or second-tier FCS. San Diego State made him an offer to walk on, but Allen turned it down because Aztecs coach Rocky Long couldn't guarantee any playing time. In a 2017 story on Allen, ESPN journalist Mark Schlabach speculated on why Allen got so little interest out of high school:[3]

At the time, Josh was about 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He hadn't attended the elite quarterback camps and wasn't a widely known prospect. His high school team didn't participate in many 7-on-7 camps because Josh and many of his teammates were busy playing baseball and other sports. He was the leading scorer on his basketball team and also pitched on the baseball team, reaching 90 mph with his fastball.

Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Eisenberg added in another 2017 story,[4]

At a time when many scholarship-hungry families encourage their kids to specialize in one sport or to transfer to the school that will provide the most exposure, the Allens resisted both trends. They spurned overtures from more prominent Central Valley programs after Allen’s breakout junior season and kept him at Firebaugh, living by the family mantra that "you bloom where you’re planted."

Not only was Allen involved in multiple sports while in high school, he also regularly worked on the family farm and at the restaurant his mother operated in Firebaugh.[4]

Allen was a member of the National FFA Organization through his local chapter at Firebaugh High School. Allen received numerous awards for his agricultural work and knowledge including a rank in the top four in the nation in diversified crop production of cantaloupe, cotton, and wheat in 2014.[9]

College career

Reedley College

Allen attended Reedley College, a junior college[8] where one of the football assistant coaches at the time was married to Allen's cousin.[3] Reedley's offensive coordinator at the time, Ernie Rodriguez, recalled in Eisenberg's story, "He was putting up ungodly numbers and making some incredible throws, but he was getting no love. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t believe that nobody wanted him."[4] Allen did not play in the team's first three games in 2014, but in the next game ran for four touchdowns after coming off the bench, and soon became the team's starter,[3] throwing for 25 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions for the rest of the season.[4] By then, he had grown to 6'5" and 210 pounds (1.96 m, 95 kg), and his coaches at Reedley thought that he would soon receive many FBS scholarship offers. This proved incorrect; near the end of the season, Allen sent a mass email to every head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and quarterback coach in FBS, but received interest from only a small number of schools. Only Eastern Michigan and Wyoming offered him a scholarship, and Eastern Michigan withdrew its offer when Allen visited Wyoming late in the 2014–15 junior-college signing period.[3][8]

Wyoming's coaches initially visited Reedley to scout another potential transfer,[3] but former Fresno State assistant Dave Brown, who had since become part of the inaugural staff of new Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl, was familiar with Allen, and urged offensive coordinator Brent Vigen to recruit him.[4] While researching Allen, Vigen noticed a large number of parallels between Allen and a quarterback whom he had recruited in 2010 while serving in the same role at North Dakota StateCarson Wentz, who went on to become a starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.[10] Wentz was similar in size to Allen, and also shared Allen's small-town, multi-sport, and late-blooming background.[4] Bohl soon warmed to Allen as a prospect, especially after their initial quarterback prospect committed to Syracuse. Bohl was the only FBS head coach to visit the family farm, and while there, he told Allen's father, "We went all around the country and there's only one quarterback we want and that's your son. He's going to be the face of our program."[3] Despite receiving an offer from Wyoming, Allen made one final pitch to Fresno State's staff, sending a pointed email to an assistant referencing the fact that the team had received a commitment from a quarterback prospect who was both shorter and lighter than Allen was when Fresno State turned him down in high school.[3] After being rebuffed, he committed to Wyoming, enrolling there prior to the 2015 season.[11]

University of Wyoming

Allen at Mountain West Conference media days in 2017

In his first year at Wyoming, he played in two games and made one start. In his first career start he attempted only four passes before suffering a broken collarbone which ended his season; because the injury occurred early in the season, he qualified for a medical redshirt.[12][13] Allen returned from the injury in 2016 and was Wyoming's starter.[14][15]

After throwing for over 3,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2016, he contemplated declaring for the 2017 NFL draft, initially telling his family, girlfriend, and a few friends that he would turn pro.[3] Shortly before the deadline to declare for the draft, Vigen called Allen's father to explain why he should stay at Wyoming an extra year; according to Eisenberg, "When Joel Allen got off the phone and entered his son’s room, he found his son riddled with anxiety about his decision."[4] Before the draft declaration deadline, Bohl told Allen that staying in school one more year would improve his long-term NFL prospects, and Allen also sought advice from Wentz, who told him that in the NFL, he would have many league veterans depending on him to "win games and help secure their jobs."[3] Allen ultimately remained at Wyoming. He threw for 1,812 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 2017.[16]

College statistics

Year Team Games Passing Rushing
GP GS Cmp Att Pct Yards Y/Att Long TDs Int Sacked Rating Att Yards Avg TD
2015 Wyoming 2 1 4 6 66.7 51 8.5 19 0 0 0 127.8 3 40 13.3 0
2016 Wyoming 14 14 209 373 56.0 3,203 8.6 54 28 15 26 144.9 142 523 3.7 7
2017 Wyoming 11 11 152 270 56.3 1,812 6.7 47 16 6 22 138.1 92 204 2.2 5
NCAA Totals 27 26 365 649 56.2 5,066 7.8 54 44 21 48 137.7 237 767 3.2 12


Wyoming Cowboys records

  • Most total touchdowns in a season — 35 (tied with Randy Welniak and Josh Wallwork)[18]

Professional career

Shortly after the completion of the 2017 NFL Draft, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said about Allen's NFL prospects, "There was one personnel director who told me this week that you can put in the books, Josh Allen will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next year."[3] In December 2017, after leading the 8–5 Cowboys to a 37–14 win over Central Michigan in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Allen announced he would be entering the 2018 NFL Draft.[19] In his first mock draft in January 2018, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted that the Cleveland Browns would select Allen over other top quarterbacks in the 2018 draft, such as Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson.[20]

On the day of the draft, old Twitter posts of his in which Allen used several racial slurs when he was in high school, were brought up.[21][22][23] He apologized, stating that he was "young and dumb" for making them.[24]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad Wonderlic
6 ft 4 78 in
(1.95 m)
237 lb
(108 kg)
33 14 in
(0.84 m)
10 18 in
(0.26 m)
4.75 s 1.59 s 2.74 s 4.40 s 6.90 s 33 12 in
(0.85 m)
9 ft 11 in
(3.02 m)
All values are from NFL Combine[26][27]

Buffalo Bills

2018 season: Rookie year

Allen at Bills training camp in August 2018

The Buffalo Bills drafted Allen with the seventh overall pick in the draft, trading up from 12th overall with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make the selection.[28] On July 25, he signed a four-year, fully guaranteed $21 million contract with the Bills.[29] Allen competed for the starting quarterback position behind AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman through the offseason and training camp.[30] Despite a quality preseason, Allen started the season as the backup to Peterman after McCarron was traded to the Oakland Raiders.[31]

Allen during the preseason

On September 9, 2018, Allen made his first regular season appearance against the Baltimore Ravens after Peterman was benched after posting a 0.0 passer rating. Allen finished with 74 passing yards and 26 rushing yards as the Bills lost 47–3.[32][33] On September 12, it was announced that Allen would start the following week against the Los Angeles Chargers.[34] Allen finished with 245 passing yards, his first NFL passing touchdown, which went to Kelvin Benjamin, and two interceptions as the Bills lost 20–31. He also rushed for 32 yards.[35] Allen's 57-yard completion to Zay Jones, which traveled 64 yards, tied for the second longest air distance ever recorded by NFL Next Gen Stats for a completed pass.[36][37]

During a Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, Allen led the Bills to their first victory of the season with a dominant first-half performance. Allen passed for 196 yards and a touchdown, adding 39 yards on the ground with two rushing touchdowns in a 27–6 victory.[38] In particular, he hurdled over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on one of his scrambles to pick up a first down, a play that went viral on social media.[39][40]

During Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans, Allen completed 10 of 19 passes for 82 passing yards and an interception in the 13–12 win, adding another rushing touchdown.[41] The following week, in a 20–13 loss to the Houston Texans, Allen suffered an elbow injury and did not return. He finished the game completing 10 of 17 passes for 84 passing yards and 20 rushing yards.[42] He was expected to miss at least two games with the injury.[43]

Allen returned after missing four games, getting the start against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which was noteworthy as Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey had called Allen "trash" prior to the season.[44][45] In a back-and-forth game that saw the Bills win 24–21 over the Jaguars, Allen completed 8 of 19 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, adding 99 yards on the ground on 13 rushes and a rushing touchdown.[46] The 99 rushing yards broke the Bills franchise record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, previously held by Tyrod Taylor.[47][48] Despite a 21–17 loss to the Dolphins the following week, Allen threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns and added 135 yards on the ground (averaging 15.0 YPA). During a game against the New York Jets and fellow rookie quarterback Sam Darnold in Week 14, Allen finished with 206 passing yards and 2 interceptions, adding a rushing touchdown on 101 rushing yards as the Bills lost a close game 23–27.[49] Allen became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 95 yards rushing in a three-week span, accumulating 335 yards.[50]

After a rough 24–12 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 16, Allen rebounded in the rematch against the Dolphins in Week 17. Despite throwing his first career pick-six, he scored five total touchdowns, three passing and two rushing, along with 224 passing yards and 95 rushing yards as the Bills routed the Dolphins 42–17. The performance earned him recognition as the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week.[51] The Bills finished 6–10 on the season, 5–6 with Allen as the starting quarterback. He became the first quarterback in Bills history to lead the team in both passing and rushing in a season.[52] He led all quarterbacks with eight rushing touchdowns on the season.[53] It was also noted that his play had improved significantly after his return from injury.[54]

2019 season

Allen entered 2019 as the Bills' opening day starter, being named a team captain.[55] On September 8, 2019, Allen led the Bills to a comeback win over the New York Jets in week 1. Despite the Bills being down 16–0 at one point in the third quarter, Allen led the team to 17 unanswered points. He finished the game with 254 passing yards on 24 completions, both career highs. He also had one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and two interceptions.[56] After leading Buffalo to its first 3–0 start since 2011, Allen struggled against a stout New England Patriots defense, throwing three interceptions, but became the first player to score an offensive touchdown on the Patriots in the 2019 season. He completed 13 of 28 passes for 153 yards, and also rushed for 26 yards and the aforementioned touchdown before suffering a helmet-to-helmet hit from Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones, which forced him out of the eventual 16–10 Bills loss.[57]

Despite being placed in the concussion protocol, Allen returned the following week against the Tennessee Titans, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts for 219 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in a 14–7 Bills win.[58] In Week 10 against the Cleveland Browns, Allen completed 22 of 41 passes for 266 yards and ran for 28 yards and two touchdowns, but the Bills lost 19–16 after two missed field goals.[59] The following week against the Miami Dolphins, he passed for 256 yards and three touchdowns, matching a career high, and rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown as the Bills won 37–20.[60] He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 11.[61] Against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in week 13, Allen completed 19 of 24 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 120.7, also rushing for 43 yards and a touchdown in a 26–15 Bills win.[62]

NFL statistics

Teams Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rate Att Yds Avg TD
2018 BUF 12 11 169 320 52.8 2,074 6.5 10 12 67.9 89 631 7.1 8
2019 BUF 12 12 225 366 61.5 2,591 7.1 16 8 88.3 93 430 4.6 8
Total 24 23 375 686 57.4 4,665 6.8 26 20 78.9 183 1,061 5.8 16

NFL records

  • First quarterback to rush for at least 95 yards in three consecutive games (Week 12–14, 2018)[63]

Bills franchise records

  • Most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game: 135[64]
  • Longest touchdown pass by a rookie quarterback: 75 yards[65]
  • Most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season: 631[66]
  • Most total touchdowns by a rookie: 18[66]

Player profile

Allen has received praise for his arm strength, mobility, mental toughness, and leadership skills, drawing comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. He was highly sought after in the NFL draft for his "raw potential" despite criticism of his consistency and accuracy coming out of college. In college and early on in his professional career, Allen maintained a gunslinger attitude, attempting and completing difficult passes but also taking unnecessary risks.[67]

His scrambling ability, in particular, has taken many sports analysts by surprise. Despite a poor offensive line in his rookie year, Allen was able to elude and break tackles to keep plays alive or gain large amounts of yardage on the ground, keeping an otherwise ineffective Buffalo offense moving.[68][66]


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External links