ARLINGTON, Texas – After months of speculation and debate, the Buffalo Bills finally have their quarterback.
And they didn't wait for him to fall to them at the 12th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Having moved up to the No. 7 pick in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bills selected Josh Allen of Wyoming.
The Bills did not have to part with the No. 22 pick in the first round. They instead gave up two second-round picks (No. 53 and 56) and also received a seventh-round pick, No. 255 overall. The Bucs used the 12th pick to select massive Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.
"I just want to say thank you to the Bills organization for making the leap and putting their faith in me," Allen said. "I'm going to make them look like the smartest people out there. ... I'm blessed to be part of the Bills Mafia. It's one of the greatest moments of my life.
"I'm ready to come win. I'm ready to go work – that's the one thing I want to do is come win football games in the great city of Buffalo. They deserve it. ... It's a tough place to play and I'm ready to step in and go help this team win football games."
He joins the team in the midst of a controversy that surfaced Wednesday night when it was revealed he had posted tweets in high school that contained racial slurs and other offensive language, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Allen has apologized, telling ESPN's Chris Mortensen Thursday, "If I could go back in time, I would never have done this in a heartbeat. At the time, I obviously didn't know how harmful it was and now has become. I hope you know and others know I'm not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly. ... I don't want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did."
Asked after he was selected about whether he needed to address his tweets with his new teammates, Allen said, "I don't have to (address things) but I probably will. I want them to know that I'm going to work on being the best teammate possible. I've never had a problem in my past with any teammates. I love all my guys."
Bills coach Sean McDermott said of the tweets, "It's not something we tolerate around here whatsoever." He said the team spoke with Allen on Thursday, as well as his coach and some of his teammates. Beane said the Bills could not find anyone who said "one negative thing" about Allen on Thursday.
Football-wise, Allen seemed like the perfect fit for the Bills all along. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds and with the most powerful arm of any college prospect to come along in a while, he is the big, strong pocket passer the team needs to handle the rugged weather with which he'll have to deal at New Era Field.
"He's got the biggest arm I've seen since JaMarcus Russell, and JaMarcus Russell was a bust," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. "What I think differentiates this kid is his football IQ, passion, work ethic, and I could see a difference between 2016 and 2017, and I could see a difference between 2017 to the Combine and then again to the Pro Day."
"I think that's what people see when they kind of look at me, is just a bad-weather quarterback, just because of what I've done at Wyoming," Allen told reporters during a pre-draft youth event Wednesday. "I didn't play in great conditions there. I frickin' practiced in wind every day in Wyoming. It's just something that I'm OK with. I know my strengths and the arm strength and the ability to be able to cut through wind and snow and rain and all that stuff, it kind of comes with being a quarterback that plays in tough weather. And if you look at all the playoff games this past year, it was cold, it was windy and that's playoff football."
He has been criticized for his lack of accuracy, because he completed 56 percent of his passes in college. However, Allen insisted Wednesday it is something he can correct in the NFL, saying, "When my feet are set and I'm throwing on platform and throwing with rhythm, I'm as accurate as anybody out there."
"I think with tall quarterbacks especially, footwork is critical, and most tall quarterbacks struggle early, accelerating everything," Mayock said. "What he has to do is learn how to anticipate and throw with timing, even more than the whole accuracy conversation, because he's more accurate than people think."
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl lauded Allen's impact on his program.
“Josh has really been a special player for our program, and personally a special player for me,” Bohl said. “Head coaches and quarterbacks have a special relationship, and it’s been exciting to see Josh’s growth. He has had an exponential impact on our program that has helped redefine Cowboy Football. Josh is going to have a great and long career in the NFL.”