Football

Josh Allen wants the pressure that comes with being No. 1 pick in NFL Draft

Josh Allen wants the pressure of being the top overall pick in the NFL Draft. He would relish it and is hopeful the Cleveland Browns view him as the top quarterback in this year’s class.

“I would love to have that pressure on my shoulders because I’ve always thrived in those situations,” Allen said on Tuesday. “I feel like Cleveland would be a great spot to be. But, if I’m not, I’m not, and I’m going to do whatever I can to the team that actually picks me and actually wants me so we’ll go from there.”

The Browns are expected to use the No. 1 pick on a quarterback when the draft gets underway Thursday at AT&T Stadium. (5 p.m. Pacific time, FOX)

There have been rumblings that Allen could be Cleveland’s top target, although there’s plenty of competition. Some believe USC’s Sam Darnold would be the safest pick, while others feel the Browns should roll the dice on Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

But Allen is certainly in the conversation and had pre-draft visits with seven teams, including Cleveland, New York Giants, New York Jets and Buffalo. The Wyoming quarterback has arguably the best arm in the class, but his accuracy has been questioned.

Allen completed just 56.3 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 1,812 yards with 16 TDs and six interceptions. Still, his impressive arm strength could land him as the top overall pick.

As far as the critics are concerned, Allen has done his best at blocking them out.

“It doesn’t bother me one way or another. Everybody’s got their own opinion and their own say,” Allen said. “In today’s age, everybody wants to be right. So there’s people that hate you, there’s people that love you. I’m going to go out there and play my game, and whatever team is fortunate to pick me, or I’m fortunate to be picked by, is going to be a team I’m going to give everything to. Hopefully I’ll be there for the next 15 years.

“It’s an exciting time, but at this moment right now I’m content with whatever happens. My job is done and now it’s just sitting back and hearing my name being called.”

Allen spent Tuesday at the Cowboys’ practice facility known as The Star. He took part in an event with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, as well as fellow draft hopefuls Minkah Fitzpatrick, Shaquem Griffin and Mason Rudolph.

The event supported Witten’s “The Score Foundation” and partnered with J.C. Penney to emphasize the importance of leadership on and off the field. The players received a custom suit from COLLECTION by Michael Strahan, which is sold exclusively at J.C. Penney.

Allen soaked it all in, spending time with Witten.

“Maybe the best tight end to ever play the game,” Allen said. “You just hear how good of a person he is from around the league and from different people. To model yourself after one person on and off the field, not just as a tight end or a football player, but just as a human being is definitely someone you can draw inspiration from.”

From Firebaugh to NFL

Allen hopes to become a similar role model in whatever community he finds himself in by Thursday. He reflected back on his journey, too, going from Firebaugh to Wyoming to the NFL.

He credited Firebaugh with laying the foundation for his success.

“Firebaugh kind of taught me everything I know as a person,” Allen said. “The hard work. The dedication that it takes. We’re a group of hard-working people down there and it’s something that I hold near and dear to my heart, just where I come from and the type of people that come from there. You see me as a person that kind of reflects the town.”

Allen is ready for his draft day moment. He’ll be joined alongside several family members and his college coaches Thursday night.

“It’s going to be a good day for the Allen family and I think the city of Firebaugh and the whole Central Valley and the state of Wyoming,” Allen said. “There’re a lot of people behind me and I’m extremely blessed to have the support that I do.”

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