#1 best-selling author Mark Schofield reveals his list of the top quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. Schofield, who wrote 17 Drives – a chronicle of the 2015 college football season – has ranked Brandon Allen as his 18th ranked prospect. Click here to look at all of his work on the 2016 QB class.
A veteran signal-caller with three years as a starter in the SEC, Arkansas’ Brandon Allen hopes his experience translates to hearing his name called during the NFL Draft. Allen started 11 games as a sophomore in 2013, completing 49% of his passes for 1,552 yards and 13 touchdowns, against 11 interceptions. The quarterback improved on those numbers during each of his next two seasons, throwing for 2,285 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior (with only five INTs and a completion percentage of 56%). He finished his collegiate career by completing 66% of his passes for 3,440 yards and 30 touchdowns, all career highs.
In addition to his experience in the SEC, running the Arkansas offense for three seasons with increasing effectiveness is a major strength. Allen is experienced operating under center and in the shotgun. He was very adept at running the Razorbacks schemes, which included a number of well-designed throwback concepts and a good percentage of play-action throws, where Allen made very confident decisions with the football and some quick reads of the defense.
He is also very comfortable against pressure, and is not quick to panic in the pocket when facing the blitz. Allen is generally accurate in short and intermediate range, and is very good at throwing on the move, especially on designed rollouts working off play-action. He also shows decent footwork on his drops from center or on shotgun plays, and his footwork often times up well with intermediate routes such as out routes or curl patterns.
While he is very effective in the play-action passing game, Allen’s decision-making and play speed could be improved on standard drop-back plays. At times, he is too slow to process information and make a decision with the football. The Arkansas offense gave him a number of one read plays, allowing him to be conservative at times with the football, perhaps overly so. He also tends to stare down his primary target, and needs to improve on working through progression reads. In addition, he lacks the ability to consistently throw with anticipation, and this not only impacts the offensive structure but also impairs his accuracy, as the inability to throw with anticipation allows pressure to draw near and impact his throwing motion. Finally, because of his size 6’ 1” and sub-9” hands, many teams might even leave him off their boards, particularly for the failure to meet the 9” hand threshold (although he did cross this number at the Arkansas pro day).
Given the offense he ran at Arkansas and the schemes which he was most successful implementing, Allen fits best in a West Coast scheme that allows him to attack the short and intermediate areas of the field. In addition, these offenses will play to his strength of working on play-action throws.
Here is an example of Allen at his best, on a play against Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. The Razorbacks come out with 21 offensive personnel, with Allen under center and a full-house backfield using a tight end and two running backs. After taking the snap and faking a lead run to the deep back, Allen drops to throw:
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He delivers a strong and incredibly-well placed throw on a deep comeback pattern. The timing and footwork on the drop sync up well with the receiver’s route, and the play goes for a huge gain. This is Allen at his best, carrying out a play-action fake and delivering a strong, accurate throw timed up well with the offensive structure.
7th Rounder – UDFA
One- to Three-Year Projection
There is a fine line between being careful with the football, and playing conservative. Allen straddles this line but perhaps crosses it toward the conservative side of the ledger. The QB had a chance to display a more aggressive nature down in Mobile during Senior Bowl week, but too often would simply tuck the football and run during team drills, rather than challenge the secondary. When he did, he then threw some tough interceptions. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if a quarterback is too afraid to challenge a secondary on a Wednesday afternoon, what will he do on Monday night? Given these reservations, Allen’s ceiling is likely a long-term backup in the NFL, given the right scheme fit and some patience from the coaching staff.