Who Is Broncos Backup Quarterback Brandon Allen?

The Broncos’ high hopes for quarterback Drew Lock were put on hold as he recovers from an injury. After the veteran presence of Joe Flacco was sidelined with an injury, the team called on Brandon Allen, a player who has been in the NFL but had not yet played a single snap. 

If anyone hadn’t heard of Brandon Allen before his entrance into the NFL, they know who he is now. But the story of how he got here shows one of hard work and patience. 

The rise of Brandon Allen

Before entering the NFL, Allen spent four years at Arkansas. Although the Fayetteville, Arkansas native’s freshman season only included sporadic play, he improved every single year he played college football.

In 11 games as a sophomore, Allen still proved to be raw at best. He completed 128 of 258 passes and threw for 13 touchdowns to go along with 10 interceptions. Junior year was a big one for Allen. He began to show NFL potential, getting his completion rate up to 56% on 339 passes and throwing 20 touchdowns against only five interceptions.

By Allen’s senior year, however, his NFL potential was in full swing. The quarterback threw 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 3,440 yards to boast a 166.5 quarterback rating.

During Allen’s senior season, Arkansas had a respectable 5-3 record in the SEC and eventually won the Liberty Bowl against Kansas State. Although the QB was not guaranteed to find a home, he eventually declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Allen’s NFL dreams

Brandon Allen of the Denver Broncos gives an interview on the field
Denver Broncos’ Brandon Allen gives an interview | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Allen had to wait to see if his name was called in the latter moments of the draft. After seeing 200 players go before him, Allen eventually got a call from the Jacksonville Jaguars, although he still needed to work hard to make it into an NFL rotation. This success didn’t come right away. 

Although Allen signed for four years with the Jaguars, he was cut after spending the entire 2016 season on the bench. The Los Angeles Rams claimed Allen off of the waiver wire next, and he served as the third-string quarterback behind Jared Goff and Sean Mannion. Allen spent the entire 2017 season on the bench before joining the practice squad in 2018. 

He would never see the football field with the Rams, although he was able to experience the team’s run to the Super Bowl from inside the organization and work with one of the best rosters in the NFL. The Rams eventually cut Allen in August 2019, where the Broncos quickly scooped him up.

Brandon Allen gets a shot 

Allen was signed as insurance for Joe Flacco, who was already presumed to be a stop-gap for Drew Lock. As he did in both Jacksonville and Los Angeles, the third-stringer watched the games from the bench. Then, an injury to Joe Flacco finally gave Allen the opportunity he’d waited for.

Allen played his first NFL game against the struggling Cleveland Browns. He put in a memorable starting performance, throwing 193 yards on his way to two touchdowns and no interceptions. Although this has been Allen’s only NFL game, his name got people buzzing. After all, many players who sit on the bench are not ready for the spotlight, especially after three seasons. 

Allen’s teammates noticed this drive to be ready. Broncos left guard Dalton Risner said the QB’s demeanor is infectious for the whole team. “You know what impressed me the most was just the way he stayed calm,” Risner said per Sports Illustrated. “Brandon — you’d think a guy would go out there wide-eyed but holy cow, that guy kept us all calm.”

Allen has the competitive drive and talent to be in the NFL, but only time will tell if this is a one-off chance or something he can grow into with the Broncos or on another team. Whatever happens, Allen will be ready to prove himself once more.