Nobody can deny that Josh Allen looked like a totally different player in his third year with the Buffalo Bills. His 2020 season included some eye-popping numbers, plenty of big plays, and his first Pro Bowl selection. And in many ways, the 6-foot-5, 237-pound signal-caller represents what NFL teams look for in a modern-day quarterback.
Still, in a league that’s had plenty of elite athletes at the position over the years, it’s fair to wonder where Allen ranks. And based on Greg Cosell’s shocking statement about the fourth-year pro, both Michael Vick and John Elway should feel slighted by the legendary NFL analyst.
Greg Cosell makes a shocking statemtn about Josh Allen
Allen broke out in a big way in his third year in Buffalo. Coming off a season in which he completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,089 yards, 20 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, he showed everyone why he went No. 7 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. With Stefon Diggs taking over as the team’s No. 1 receiver, Allen shattered expectations by completing 69.2% of his attempts for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. Plus, he added 421 yards and eight touchdowns as a runner — a testament to his overall athleticism and ability to make plays with his feet.
While Allen undoubtedly showcased the ability to do damage through the air and on the ground, it’s not as if he’s the first quarterback to do so. Apparently, though, he possesses more raw ability than any of his peers. At least, that’s what Cosell, a longtime NFL Films producer and analyst, declared as a guest writer for this week’s version of Football Morning in America.
“I think, speaking of Josh Allen, he is the most physically gifted quarterback in the NFL,” Cosell wrote. “That is not a bold, controversial take. It is just a statement of fact.”
The praise didn’t stop there, though. In fact, the legendary analyst took things further by directly comparing Allen to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
“The name that often comes up, and rightly so, when the talk is of the most physically talented quarterbacks of all time is John Elway. Allen is a much bigger man than Elway,” Cosell wrote. “Allen is the most intriguing quarterback I have watched and evaluated in all my years at NFL Films. It would not surprise me at all if we soon call Allen the most physically gifted quarterback the league has ever seen. Stay tuned.”
Michael Vick and John Elway should feel slighted by the legendary analyst’s bold claim
To call Allen the most physically gifted quarterback of all time seems like a major disservice to two truly historic talents in Vick and Elway. The Bills star might have the strongest arm in the league, and he ran a solid 40-yard dash time of 4.75 seconds at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. But compared to those two big names, Allen doesn’t measure up.
In terms of playing the position at a high level, Vick didn’t exactly wow anyone as a pure passer. But from a physical standpoint, he possessed a once-in-a-lifetime combination of arm strength and elite speed. He could flick the ball downfield with uncanny ease, and linebackers and safeties who faced Vick in the open field don’t need a reminder about the danger his 4.33 wheels.
Sure, his 6-foot, 220-pound frame didn’t make him an imposing presence like Allen. However, Vick’s rare physical gifts allowed him to rush for 1,000 yards in a season — something Allen never has or will ever come close to accomplishing. It gave him the chance to make all-time greats look overmatched, as his agility and make-you-miss ability left would-be tacklers grasping at air. And anyone who watched him complete deep balls to DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia understands the power of Vick’s left arm.
Moreover, Elway had such rare athletic gifts that he could have played Major League Baseball. The 2004 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee not only torched defenses with his powerful right arm (300 career touchdown passes), but he also racked up 3,407 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns in 234 regular-season games. Plus, Elway accounted for 461 yards and six touchdowns in 22 playoff games.
Considered the gold standard for quarterback prospects, he had all the physical tools needed to excel at the pro level. And based on his nine Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl rings, it’s fair to say Elway delivered on his potential.
Allen certainly deserves to be mentioned in the conversation, but he simply doesn’t deserve to top Vick and Elway, who other players still get compared to today.
Allen’s rare athletic gifts won’t mean anything if he can’t turn the Bills into Super Bowl champions
Whether Cosell’s assessment of Allen is accurate or not, the only thing matters is if the 25-year-old quarterback can use his skill set to turn the Bills into Super Bowl champions. To this point, that has yet to happen.
But could that change in the future?
On paper, Buffalo has one of the best rosters in the AFC. Allen leads an offense that includes Diggs, promising third-year running back Devin Singletary, and dependable veterans Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. Meanwhile, the defense features talent on all three levels, especially with Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde anchoring the secondary.
At the end of the day, though, the Bills will go as far as Allen takes them. He has to continue to get better about taking care of the football (31 career fumbles). And he has to play better under the bright lights and high pressure of the postseason.
After all, Josh Allen didn’t inspire comparisons to Michael Vick or John Elway by completing 58.3% of his passes, throwing an interception, and getting sacked four times in Buffalo’s AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.