For Josh Allen, he joins the Bills as the highest drafted quarterback in franchise history. When the Bills traded for the 7th overall pick, they immediately created high expectations for Allen’s future with the team. But those expectations don’t all have to be met this upcoming season. So what are some reasonable expectations the Bills can put on Allen coming into his rookie season?
For one, you want Josh Allen to be dedicated to the Bills and the path management decides is best for him. Before the Bills knew who was going to be added to the QB room at the draft, Sean McDermott had already announced an open competition for the starting job.
That leaves several options for what could happen with Allen. As much as anyone wants to be a starter on a team, Allen understands the possibility of being in a backup role in 2018.
“There’s really no pressure,” said Allen. “There’s nothing that’s been said to me that has made me feel uncomfortable or feel worried about anything at all. I’m here to get better, I’m here to be the best teammate, the best quarterback that I can be. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Allen is already showing some dedication to the responsibilities of the quarterback position. Not only is he well versed in Buffalo’s offensive system under Brian Daboll, he is also demonstrating natural leadership skills.
“Always smiling. Positive energy,” said Ray-Ray McCloud of his draft classmate. “You won’t catch him not smiling. That’s all he does is smile. I met him at the combine and it was a serious moment, but he had that smile. When we’re here, even off the field, he’ll be like, ‘What up Raymond?’ He’ll say my real name, so I’ll do the same and go, ‘What up, Joshua?’ But he’s a fun dude to be around and he brings positive energy.”
The Bills should also expect refinement and improvement from Allen over the course of this season. Something Daboll said Allen has the right mentality about already.
“I think Josh is a mature guy who has handled his responsibilities the right way,” said Daboll. “He works hard. He improves. He listens to the veterans and coaches. If he makes a mistake one day, he works really hard to try and fix it the next day. He has the right attitude.”
Allen has already shown he has the speed and awareness to be a threat on the move to an opposing defense, but that doesn’t mean it is a skill that is ready for an NFL quite yet. And even though Allen has a cannon attached to his shoulder, he still will be looking to work on his timing.
To improve, Allen has gone to veterans on the roster for help.
“Micah Hyde came down and broke one of my passes up and I came up to him after practice and just asked what he saw,” said Allen. “He saw my eyes, so just being able to talk with the defense like that and pick up on cues that they’re looking at in order to make plays on the football, because they get payed to play this game, too. [I’m] just learning from all the reps that I take.”
In a QB-driven league, one thing a quarterback needs to be is a leader. Even if he isn’t the starting QB, or the first backup, Allen needs to start becoming a leader on the roster. McDermott has already made sure Allen knows leadership is something expected from the rookie.
“You’re the leader when you’re out there and, certainly what happens before the snap is just as important or sets you up for what happens after the ball is snapped,” said McDermott. “From there it’s down in and down out, how are you going to handle yourself and how consistent can you remain through the course of an entire game? There is a lot that goes on pre-snap and that’s a part of the learning curve as well and understanding tells or indicators out there from the defensive side of the ball.
He’s doing well. He’s a student of the game and he continues to work hard and that’s part of his progression mentally in terms of developing in that regard both off the field and then, of course, on the field as well.”
Then, one thing that everyone knows – or at least has heard – about Allen is the rare arm. Something Allen discovered in his senior year of high school could be the reason he could play in a division 1 football program. That arm also led to a 70-yard touchdown pass to Proehl that effectively ended of minicamp.
“He’s pretty good. I’m not a big fan of rookies,” said LeSean McCoy. “Last year if I was to name the best rookie out there it would’ve been Tre’ (White). Tre’ is really good. A lot of guys who are rookies are not like him. The quarterback (Allen) is on that level.
“He’s good. He’s smart. He’s got to learn of course. He’s thrown some passes that shouldn’t have been thrown. But other than that he’s got a strong arm and is very intelligent. He’s special that’s for sure.”
McDermott has admitted the specialty that is an arm like Allen’s, but cautions that Allen is still a rookie with room to improve.
“Josh has a strong arm. I think we all know that,” said Allen. “I’ve been around the league long enough to know that it’s one of the stronger arms; I’m not going to compare it to some of the guys I’ve been around. He’s got a talented arm, so within that, there’s other areas that are just as important, though, for arm strength, and that’s where we have a lot of work to do. The great part about Josh is [that] he came in with a great mindset; he’s embraced that growth mindset of getting better every day and that’s what we’re looking forward to in the future.”