Josh Allen: Mystery man and potential No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick

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The Wyoming Cowboys entered Kinnick Stadium this past Saturday afternoon as a dangerous opponent for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Sure, it was a Mountain West team against a Big Ten team in the comfort of their own stadium, but Wyoming was expected to give Iowa, and especially Iowa’s defense, a big early season test.

The reason? Yes, Iowa’s secondary was young and inexperienced, but that wasn’t the talking point outside of Iowa City heading into the Week 1 clash. No, the reason was Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen, who many feel could be the No. 1 overall pick of this upcoming NFL Draft.

Or at least they felt that after ESPN’s Adam Schefter “outed” Allen as a potential superstar and top quarterback prospect towards the tail end of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Mostly an unknown until that point — at least outside of MWC circles — Schefter propelled Allen into the national spotlight with his report and he pulled the parking break off the hype train for Allen.

For better or worse, high expectations were placed on the Wyoming quarterback.

Keep in mind that it has only been one game and there’s still a whole bunch of college football to be played this season but after his week one results the question has to be asked: Just who is Josh Allen?

Granted, Iowa’s defense played great in the opening weekend contest. The Hawkeyes were physical, aggressive and completely controlled the pace of the game. They got pressure on Allen up front — much in thanks to an All-American performance by preseason All-American linebacker Josey Jewell — and they were glued to his receivers down the field.

Iowa came to play on Saturday, so let’s not take anything away from the Hawkeyes’ defense. They held the Cowboys to only 223 total yards of offense, including just 59 on the ground. Wyoming was 5-of-18 on third down and Allen could only complete 4.3 yards per pass. He completed only 23-of-40 passes for 174 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass, though one was very close if his wide open receiver held on to the football, and Iowa was able to pick him off twice.

It was a dominating performance by Iowa’s defense. Allen could never get comfortable and he was largely ineffective. Many of his throws were high and wide and his athleticism was shut down by Iowa on the edge.

Allen looked pedestrian at best. Overmatched at worse.

And keep in mind, it’s not like he ran into Alabama’s all-world defense. The Hawkeyes looked great on Saturday, but they may have issues of their own this season. Outside of linebacker, they’re largely a young and unproven group, but they all looked like savvy veterans against Allen and the Cowboys’ offense.

The good news for Wyoming is that things should get drastically easier. The Cowboys play Gardner-Webb at home next week in what should be an easy, impressive win. Week 3’s matchup at Oregon will be tough, but then it’s on to Hawaii, Texas State, and Utah State before a late October matchup at Boise State, which could go a long way towards determining the fate of the Mountain West.

Allen has plenty of time to bounce back and show us the potential he flashed last season. Remember, he did throw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions in 2016. He also rushed 142 times for seven touchdowns.

The potential and big play ability is still there, Iowa didn’t steal it and lock it away. Allen is still a 6-foot-5, 233-pound quarterback with a huge arm, tremendous athleticism and the ability to hit any throw on the field. Iowa locking him up in Week 1 doesn’t necessarily mean that all that ability or NFL potential is gone, but there were plenty of NFL scouts in attendance at that game, and they all saw what the rest of us could clearly see.

It didn’t take a veteran scout to see that Allen was ineffective and outmatched by his Big Ten opponents. The same thing could have been said last season when he threw five interceptions against Nebraska in a 52-17 Week 2 loss. He also threw two picks compared to two touchdowns in Wyoming’s bowl game loss to BYU.

So who exactly is Josh Allen?

Is he the type of player who lights up lesser competition but struggles to compete against the big dawgs? If so, that type of player is dime a dozen in the NFL Draft. They may have plenty of college highlights, but when push comes to shove, they’re not ready to play against the best of the best the league has to offer.

Is Allen overhyped, or has he simply had a few bad games against tough opponents? After all, you can’t argue his physical abilities as well as the strength of his arm — the ball flies just as straight and far no matter who’s playing defense — and if the NFL scouts can see it, who are we to argue?

As we head into Week 2 of this college football season, that’s the mystery of Josh Allen.

On one hand, he has the look and feel of a top quarterback prospect.

On the other, his results against tougher competition have been less than stellar since popping onto the radar in 2016.

There are a ton of questions that can be asked regarding Allen and his NFL future, but perhaps the most important question is this:

Would you draft Josh Allen No. 1 overall?

For the rest of this season, either way, he’ll make that question much easier to answer.