MOBILE, Ala. — The word that keeps coming to mind when watching Wyoming QB Josh Allen through the first two days of practice at the Senior Bowl is "inconsistent."
Although Allen cut through the breezy, cold air a few times with a few throws on Wednesday with impressive velocity, he also struggled with his ball placement and touch. Allen's best work came in individual drills, when he flashed his deep-ball talent and the ability to thread NFL-type throws.
But he also air-mailed a seam pass to Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli by at least a yard that was easily intercepted in 7-on-7 drills. Allen also misfired high on an out route on his very next throw and later couldn't connect with 6-foot-5 WR Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State) despite him separating on a crossing route in front of him.
Perhaps Allen's best throw of the day was an easy flick of the wrist to deliver a strike along the sideline while being flushed out to his right toward the end of the North Team full-squad work. Another dart came on a throw to Colorado State WR Michael Gallup — about 35 yards on a dime down the right sideline. These are the types of throws that can make an NFL decision maker perk up and take notice ... but the poorly placed balls need to receive an equal amount of scrutiny.
The Denver Broncos were happy to have both Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on the same team as they figure out what their next move is at quarterback. But so far, Mayfield has outshined Allen from a results and performance standpoint.
“It’s always hard coming down and throwing to people you are not familiar with and new routes," Broncos GM John Elway said. "I thought the first two days have been really good. [They have] very strong arms, so it’s been fun to watch.”
Allen has the prototypical size you're looking for — just shy of 6-foot-5, 237 pounds and 10 1/8-inch hands. He also moves extremely well and, yeah, that arm ...
“Josh Allen has a wonderful throwing arm,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “He made some big-time throws today. He’s in command of the huddle. That was good to see.”
But has Allen been good enough to ensure he's a first-round pick, especially for a team picking as high as the Broncos (No. 5 overall) are? That's a bit of a stretch, we believe.
Here are some other observations from Wednesday:
· Speaking of Elway, it wasn't one thing he said ... but I left his brief session speaking with the media feeling like the Broncos much would prefer to land the veteran QB of their choice over a rookie. Elway spoke about clearing salary-cap space and the trust you have with a veteran QB being a little higher than with a first-year passer. I just got the impression that if the Broncos find a way to land, say, free agent Kirk Cousins, it would make Elway's life a lot easier and put less pressure on the Broncos having to find a savior QB with the fifth pick.
· One of my favorite players so far down here has been Oklahoma State WR James Washington. I split my time while watching the South Team practice marvelling at Washington's ability to separate, even against press-man coverage, and gear up to top speed quickly; the rest of the time was spent thinking who he reminded me of.
And I'm still a bit stumped. Why? You just never see receivers with his build. Washington checked in at a shade below 5-foot-11 and was 210 pounds with nearly 34-inch arms. For perspective, that arm length puts him tied for 17th among all the players at Tuesday's weigh-in — up there with offensive tackles, defensive linemen and tight ends. That's just absurd.
Washington told me after practice: "Everyone sees me up close and thinks I must be a running back. But I never played that ... I've been a receiver my whole life."
Plus, Washington showed very sneaky speed and subtle route-running prowess, especially at the top of his stem. His WR coach at OSU, Kasey Dunn, was there giving pointers after practice to Washington and teammate, Marcell Ateman, who also has had a solid week. But Washington, in our view, has been the show. The South defensive backs, many of them small-school prospects, had zero chance to stopping him in the one-on-one drills and were only slightly more effective in team work.
Hat tip to Twitter user @lifesyourcup, who suggested former Dolphins/Chargers/Chiefs WR Chris Chambers as a comp. I like that and now will steal it (with credit), and I believe Washington could have the same type of impact as Chambers did when he was a low-end WR1 his first five or so seasons in the NFL.
· I spent a lot of time watching the defensive backs on Wednesday, and you can read what I wrote about West Virginia safety Kyzir White — the brother of Bears WR Kevin White — who has stood out and has the look of a pseudo-linebacker with great coverage skills in a Falcons/Seahawks type of defense.
· Other DBs who fared well when I was watching: Boston College CB Isaac Yiadom, Penn State CB Christian Campbell and Texas A&M S Armani Watts. All three made head-turning plays on Wednesday. Campbell especially had a nice day, even with Scott beating him twice that we saw.
· One DB who seemed to struggle: South Carolina CB JaMarcus King. He seemed to lack confidence and appeared a bit stung after losing a string of one-on-one battles in a row. King was receiving some tutelage from Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who has coached DBs for years in the NFL, after a few of the plays and managed to make a stop on his next rep. But King largely struggled on Wednesday, with Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton eating his lunch at least three times. Iowa State WR Allen Lazard, who has trended upward the past two days, also beat King a few times.
· If your team needs a kicker, may we recommend Auburn's Daniel Carlson? He blasted a 53-yard try into a cross breeze with at least five yards to spare, maybe more. The ball made a thud that could be heard all the way up in the press box when Carlson struck it, and that kind of leg power won't go unnoticed. Los Angeles Chargers GM Tom Telesco appeared to be taking note of Carlson's activity during practice, and his team could be seeking options at kicker after letting Josh Lambo go perhaps too soon.