ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper Jr. shocked many Thursday with his surprising mock draft. With the No. 1 pick, Kiper has the Cleveland Browns taking a quarterback, but it’s not Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold.
It’s University of Wyoming QB Josh Allen, and that prediction has raised plenty of eyebrows among those who follow the game. While Allen is considered a strong draft prospect, his numbers don’t look anywhere near as good when compared to Rosen and Darnold.
That ranking has prompted plenty of strong reactions from experts, but none have been better than former San Diego Chargers — now Los Angeles Chargers — quarterback Ryan Leaf.
Then again he picked me ahead of Peyton too, just sayin!!
— Ryan D Leaf (@RyanDLeaf) January 18, 2018
Ouch. That one has to hurt Kiper’s ego a little.
Leaf, as you likely already know, is one of the biggest NFL draft busts of all-time. He’s certainly the most well known example, mostly because he went right after future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. Those two were considered the best prospects in the draft at the time. One is going to Canton. The other was out of the league quickly.
Comparing Allen to Leaf isn’t really fair, as Leaf had some attitude issues that you wouldn’t put on any QB prospect. But compared to Rosen and Darnold, Allen’s stats fall flat.
In 11 games, Allen completed just 56.3 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns. In the same number of games, Rosen threw for 3,717 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 62.5 percent of his passes. Darnold played three more games, so his counting stats are much better. But he also had a much higher completion percentage, hitting 63.1 percent of his throws.
Stats are a big part of determining the draft, but projection and development matter as well. Allen is considered raw compared to the other two, but with some work, he could have major upside.
If that doesn’t work out, though, the downside is immense. And considering the way things have gone for the Browns lately, the last thing they need is to whiff on the No. 1 pick.
Maybe they won’t. Kiper’s prediction is an outlier here. The Browns may go with a more traditional option over Allen.
That’s not to say Allen will be bad. You don’t want to knock a player before he plays a single down in the NFL. But it’s tough to recover when even Ryan Leaf is using you to make fun of a draft expert.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik