For Bills, size mattered in choosing Allen

Josh Allen was selected with the No. 7 overall pick by Buffalo following a trade with Tampa Bay.Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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As expected, the Buffalo Bills made a move to trade up in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft to grab their quarterback of the future.

What was not expected is that the Bills would have their choice of two of the top three rated players at the position, according to proections by NFLDraftScout senior analyst Rob Rang.

Although Josh Rosen was the higher-rated quarterback, listed No. 2 overall on Rang’s Big Board behind Sam Darnold of USC, the Bills opted to take Josh Allen of Wyoming after swinging a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move up from No. 12 to seventh.

So why Allen, a less polished passer and the No. 10 overall selection on Rang’s Big Board, over Rosen?

“Both are very good players. We just, talking about Allen, big, this is Buffalo,” said Bills general manager Brandon Beane. “Big guy. An athlete. Really for his size, you look at all of the testing numbers and you look at the film. Very good athlete that makes plays in the pocket and on the run. He’s a really good kid.

“We did a lot of background on him and obviously the stuff came up today. We researched that and followed up with him, and we feel really good about it. He is Buffalo, you guys will see that when you meet him.”

Indeed, Allen is a physical specimen. Listed at 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 4.75 seconds with a 33 1/2-inch vertical jump. The knock on Allen is his completion percentage, assessed Rang.

That was not an overriding concern of Buffalo’s brass, with Beane acknowledging that all of the top quarterback prospects had “a knock” on them.

“Listen, college football is very hard to scout because you’re talking about different levels, different players. It’s not like scouting in pro where they are all playing at the same level against the same competition,” said Beane. “The closest thing that Josh Allen had to that was playing at the Senior Bowl. Obviously we didn’t just select him off the Senior Bowl, but that’s the closest where he is playing with people that are closest to his skill level.”

One of the knocks on Rosen, who played in sunny Southern California at UCLA, was his trouble protecting the ball. Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that issue did not factor in the team’s decision despite the brutal weather conditions in Buffalo.

“No, it wasn’t. Josh Rosen is a very good player. He was very much in consideration for this,” said McDermott. “You have to make a decision, it’s not easy. The size and athleticism were some of the big strengths of Allen. I don’t mean to dismiss Josh Rosen, he’s a very good player. I just really want to focus on Josh Allen and that’s why we chose him.”

There was speculation that Allen’s stock could drop after reports surfaced of offensive and racist tweets that he sent out in 2012 and 2013 while in high school.

Allen received a storm of criticism on social media and apologized early Thursday morning, but Beane said he would have had his detractors no matter his situation.

“Not everyone is going to agree with the decision. If we had drafted a different quarterback I’m sure people probably would’ve disagreed with that for other reasons. We all know that quarterback is a hot topic no matter what,” said Beane. “Even if Josh’s stuff that we had vetted out today had not been a part of it, I’m sure there would have still be social media or national media.

“We get it, but all we expect is for Josh to come in here and earn the trust and respect of his team.”