On Thursday Mel Kiper Jr. released his first 2018 NFL Mock Draft and curiously had Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen going No. 1 to the Cleveland Browns. Obviously that created a ton of controversy and Kiper spent the majority of the day defending his selection.
When someone brought up the awful numbers from his junior season, Kiper said, “Stats are for losers in my opinion. The guy won.” Which is one of the most ridiculous statements ever uttered by a respected sports pundit.
Look, I’m not some kind of stats-obsessed rotogeek, but to pretend numbers don’t matter is absurd. Yes, projection and talent level is incredibly important, but so are stats. They reflect actual things that happened on a football field, like passes dropping to the turf repeatedly. To act like Allen’s awful numbers this season aren’t a concern is ridiculous.
In the same piece where Allen takes the top spot, Kiper cited Bradley Chubb’s 46.5 tackles per loss since the 2016, Sam Darnold’s 22 turnovers this season, Tremaine Edmunds 109 tackles and 14 tackles for loss in 2017, Derwin James’ 84 tackles and two interceptions and on and on and on. So what Kiper is either a “loser” or he just doesn’t like stats that go contrary to his views.
During the 2017 season, Allen completed just 56.3 percent of his passes (152 of 270), for just 1,812 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. In 2016, it’s generally accepted Allen had more talent at his disposal. In that campaign, he completed 56 percent of his passes (209 of 373), for 3,203 yards, with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Neither of those stat lines is particularly impressive for someone with Allen’s obvious tools.
Kiper’s claim that Allen “won” is dubious as well. Allen went 8-3 as a starter in 2017, and lost to the best teams on his schedule (Iowa, Oregon, Boise State). In 2016, he went 8-6, a mark which included losses to Eastern Michigan, UNLV and New Mexico. The excuse that Allen didn’t have a great supporting cast always comes up when discussing his ability. But plenty of quarterbacks have suffered from similar problems and salved them by making those around them better. There’s no evidence Allen did that.
Kiper has claimed Lamar Jackson’s low completion percentage was a concern. Jackson completed 59.1 percent of his passes in 2017, nearly three points higher than Allen’s mark.
On Kiper’s Big Board, Allen ranks fourth and is the top quarterback. I get the fascination with a strong-armed guy who is 6’5″ and 233 pounds. The projection is certainly there. But Kiper’s dismissal of very basic production issues is asinine and shows he is unwilling to consider viewpoints other than his own. He’s decided Allen is the top guy, so he’ll ignore any facts that challenge that assertion.
Allen will get the chance to play with some better talent around him at the Senior Bowl next week. We’ll see if he rises to the challenge.