ORCHARD PARK – There is a constant game of tug of war NFL teams must play after drafting a quarterback. Do you start the guy immediately, let him learn by being out there on the field? Or show patience by starting a veteran while the rookie learns from the sidelines and mentally prepares to one day take the reigns?
After drafting Josh Allen seventh overall in April's draft, that's the exact internal struggle the Buffalo Bills are dealing with and to this point, they've chosen the latter option.
Allen spent the team's three OTA sessions taking reps with only the third team, a move head coach Sean McDermott said was part of their plan for developing the rookie. That evolved into the Wyoming product receiving some first-team reps this week, during mandatory minicamp – something McDermott clarified was simply the next natural step in their plan rather than a sign he was suddenly in the starting conversation with A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman.
As much as the Bills may want to bring Allen along slowly though, McDermott admitted ahead of their final minicamp practice on Thursday, that the gunslinger is progressing faster than he anticipated in certain areas.
"I would say, anytime you draft a player, there’s a little bit more of a deeper dive into who the person is and who the player, just because you’re around them more frequently, naturally," McDermott said "There’s been moments along the way through Josh’s career as a Bill to this point where you’re saying, ‘I knew he was here [at this level], but in fact, we think he’s a little bit further along than that in some areas.’ That said, [there is] still a lot of work to do"
These remarks come one day after running back LeSean McCoy gushed about how impressed he was with the 22-year-old.
"I have to be honest, he’s pretty good," McCoy said. "I’m not [usually] a big fan of rookies. The best rookie I’ve probably liked in my career has been Tre [White]. Tre’s really good. A lot of guys as rookies, they’re not like him. The quarterback is on that level: he’s good, he’s smart, [but] he has to learn of course. He’s thrown some passes that probably shouldn’t have been thrown, but other than that he has a strong arm, [he is] very intelligent. He’s too smart. Sometimes, we have conversations, and I’m like, “Easy, this is not like an exam. Just talk to me. You can say ‘yo, what’s up’”. As a talent level, he’s going to be good for a lot of years and I want to be a part of that when he takes over eventually. [We] took him early in the draft, so that’s common sense. He’s special, that’s for sure."
Allen will look to continue dazzling his teammates and coaches at training camp later this summer, with the players now officially on a six-week hiatus for the summer. In the meantime, McDermott's and McCoy's remarks make for a cliffhanging end to minicamp and likely leaves fans anxious to see what the rookie can do come August. And if Allen continues to impress, McDermott and company could have difficult time denying him the starting job.