Austin Allen wasn’t a good quarterback in 2017.

There’s no easy way to say it. He was indecisive, inaccurate and just downright tough to watch throughout his senior year. It’s because of that awful year that Allen didn’t even receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

He did, however, get an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. That much we found out on Monday when this tweet was fired off by quarterback coach Ken Mastrole.

For Allen, it’ll be an opportunity to show that his senior season wasn’t entirely the product of him losing his feel for the position. He can revert back to his junior year self when he finished the 2016 season as one of the SEC’s top returning quarterbacks. Something tells me Allen or his agent will reference that 2016 season a couple times in the next 3 months.

Still, there are probably plenty of people who would scoff at the idea of taking Allen for their college team, much less their NFL team.

I, however, am not one of them. I’d take a chance on Allen.

Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

By “take a chance,” obviously I don’t mean that I’d spend a high or even a mid-round draft pick on him. Allen, to me has “seventh-round flier” written all over him.

To understand that school of thinking, let’s start with a basic belief I have about the NFL Draft. That is, every team should draft a quarterback. That means 32 signal-callers should come off the board in April. Does that happen? No, but a guy like Allen is a good reason it should (also, see “Brady, Tom”).

Allen is, by all means, a project. He’s just 6-1, 215 pounds. His flaws are obvious, the biggest one being that he takes far too many sacks while forcing far too many throws. The game never really seemed to slow down for him the way it usually does for senior quarterbacks (he’ll actually be 24 before the 2018 NFL season starts).

As many Arkansas fans will point out, a lot of that was because of how awful the Hogs were up front. In both of his years as a starter, patchwork offensive line play didn’t exactly make life easy for Allen back there. The fact that he lost the overwhelming majority of his pass-catching options heading into his senior season didn’t help, either.

But if I’m a general manager, I’m curious about the prospect of a change of scenery for Allen. Is he too far gone that he wouldn’t know quality protection if he saw it? And how much better would he be surrounded by some talented veteran pass-catchers? Those will ultimately be the biggest question marks surrounding Allen in the pre-draft process.

Unfortunately for Allen, he didn’t get off to the best start in terms of quieting those concerns. In the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he completed 6-of-9 passes for 75 yards, but he took 4 sacks in limited reps. In practice throughout the week, the opposing defensive coordinator yelled, “that’s a sack!” whenever Allen held onto the ball too long. That simply has to improve if Allen wants to make an NFL roster.

The good news for Allen was that his shoulder appeared to be healthy after the midseason injury he suffered. And with his experience in the pro-style system, he can focus more on his mechanics instead of learning some of the pre-snap and post-snap reads.

Allen, like a lot of young quarterbacks, has a tendency to look really bad when he’s off and look really good when he’s on. Despite those shortcomings, there’s plenty of film of Allen making next-level throws:

If I’m an NFL general manager, there’s something else about Allen that’s worth considering.

Neither Bret Bielema nor Dan Enos has a history of developing NFL quarterbacks. Russell Wilson was a graduate transfer for Bielema at Wisconsin while Drew Stanton actually regressed in his senior season — and only season — with Enos at Michigan State. Brandon Allen, Austin’s older brother, might be the only NFL Draft pick that Bielema or Enos truly developed. But the elder Allen was a 6th-round pick who is on his second team and has yet to take an NFL snap.

Long story short, I’m curious what Austin Allen will look like with coaches who have a better track record developing quarterbacks. What could Allen do with the coaching staffs in Philadelphia or New England? Even a place like Indianapolis with Josh McDaniels and an established veteran to learn from in Andrew Luck would be an attractive landing spot for Allen.

Success at the quarterback position is so dependent on one’s surroundings. Many argued that Allen was a victim of his surroundings in Fayetteville. We’ll never know if Allen’s college career would’ve gone differently if the circumstances were better. We do know that he didn’t always make the best of those circumstances. If he wants to become an NFL Draft pick, he’ll probably have to make some significant mechanical improvements in the next few months.

That’ll be true regardless if Allen hears his name called this April. There’s a decent chance that 256 other names will be announced over the course of the 3-day event. Allen’s rough 2017 season will be to blame if that’s the case.

But eventually, somebody will take a chance on him.

And maybe, just maybe, Allen will make that somebody look like a genius.