Mike Bath is the running backs and fullbacks coach at the University of Wyoming, which means he knows all about Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen.
Allen, who became legendary at Wyoming because of his freakish throwing arm, is a hot candidate to be selected by the Browns with the first overall pick of the college football draft Thursday night in Arlington, Texas.
Since he emerged front and center as a distinct possibility several months ago, it is only natural to compare him to other NFL quarterbacks.
This is where it becomes silly, and somewhat ludicrous, especially after Bath drew a favorable comparison between Allen and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, who has a been gigantic annoyance to Cleveland pro football for the last 14 seasons.
Bath knows Roethlisberger. They were teammates for one season at Miami of Ohio before Big Ben began carving out a career that will lead to his enshrinement in Canton five years after he retires.
“(Allen) has the same competitive nature Ben has which has served Ben extremely well in his career,” Bath told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com recently. “But he’s also got some of those field characteristics and football characteristics as Ben, like the ability to throw on the run and make a play with his feet at an extremely high level.
“People probably look at their stature. But he’s bigger than Ben (was) coming out. From a size perspective, arm perspective and athleticism, there are a lot of similarities.”
Let’s look at those similarities. Actually, there are only two, both of a physical nature.
Both are a legitimate 6-5. Allen checks in at 237 pounds, nearly 17 pounds more than Roethlisberger weighed when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004 (the Browns grabbed tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. that season).
Both men own terrific throwing arms, although Roethlisberger couldn’t chuck a football 80 yards on the fly like Allen can without ripping his arm out of its shoulder socket.
The big difference was Big Ben was ready for the NFL. He stepped right in and guided the Steelers to a 15-1 record as a rookie. For an encore, he won the first of his two Super Bowl rings in his second season and has led his team to the postseason 10 times.
His statistics at Miami dwarf, almost embarrassingly, what Allen has accomplished at Wyoming. It’s not even close.
In his two full seasons with the Cowboys, Allen completed 56.1 % of his passes for 5,015 yards, 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and was sacked 49 times in 25 games.
Roethlisberger in three full seasons completed 65.5% of his passes (69% in his final year) for 10,829 yards, 84 touchdowns, 34 picks and was sacked 88 times in 38 games. In his final season, he threw for 4,486 yards (about 520 yards shy of Allen’s total output for two seasons), connecting on 37 scoring passes with just 10 interceptions.
What Bath has unwisely – and unfairly – done to Allen is compare a wet-behind-the-ears, not-even-close-to-being-ready-for-prime-time quarterback to one whose collegiate résumé was spectacular.
(One can only imagine what direction the Cleveland franchise would have taken had Butch Davis ignored his Miami of Florida bias and instead taken the quarterback from the other Miami.)
It very well could turn out that Allen, based on his mediocre success on the collegiate level, turns out to be nothing more than a larger version of DeShone Kizer, Tim Couch and Charlie Frye.
All had problems with anticipation and timing in delivering the football on time. Sound familiar with regard to Allen’s problems at Wyoming? That aspect of quarterbacking cannot be taught or acquired. Roethlisberger never had that problem, either in college or the NFL.
It’s all about coordination between the feet, the arm and the eyes. Either you have it or you don’t. If Allen has slow eyes, all the coaching in the world won’t help.
Not only is Bath’s comparison incorrect, it is absurd.