After months of speculation and mountains of pre-draft analysis, there was one simple fact that hadn't occurred to me I looked it up minutes before the NFL draft on Thursday night: The Bills were the only team that hadn't taken a quarterback as high as 13th overall since the merger in 1970.
So even if they stayed pat and took a QB with the 12th overall pick, it would have been the highest the Bills had ever drafted a player at the game's most important position. Jim Kelly was the 14th selection of the 1983 draft.
But Buffalo fans hadn't been waiting for a year to watch Brandon Beane wait until the 12th pick to get his guy. The Bills hadn't accumulated all that draft currency (six picks in the first three rounds, including the 12th and 22nd overall) to wait for one of the quarterbacks to fall to them at 12.
Beane, approaching his first draft as an NFL general manager, said it was part of a GM's job to get a franchise quarterback. He said he was a competitor. While he played coy and said he wasn't necessarily going to trade up, you figured he had identified a QB (or two) that he loved, and was ready to go get him.
The new GM pulled the trigger. On the 35th anniversary of the Kelly draft, Beane traded with the Bucs to get from 12th overall to seventh and drafted Josh Allen, a project who had the biggest arm in the draft. The Bills gave up two second-round picks, so the price wasn't as much as fans had feared.
Evidently, the Bills didn't want to sell the farm for their quarterback. The Browns took Baker Mayfield first overall and the Jets grabbed Sam Darnold at No. 3, putting the Bills in position to move up for either of the two Joshes, Rosen and Allen.
Bills fans, ever hopeful but always ready for the worst, had to be fearful that the Bills wouldn't get up for either of those two and would wind up settling for one of the lesser regarded QBs, Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson.
That wasn't an enviable outcome. I had no interest in seeing the Bills get the fifth-best quarterback in the most QB-rich draft in at least two decades – then come out and tell us that was the guy they had targeted all along.
But the Browns grabbed cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4 overall, leaving Bradley Chubb, the top defensive end on the board, for the Broncos. That was more good news for Beane and the Bills. The Colts were sitting at 6, having moved out of the third spot weeks earlier in a deal with the Jets.
So this was an ideal scenario for the Bills. Regardless of their draft board, they had a chance at two of the top quarterbacks. The Colts picked guard Quenton Nelson, though. The price to move was going down. If the Bills coveted Rosen or Allen, it was time to make a move.
Beane moved. He traded with Tampa Bay for the seventh overall pick and took Allen. I would have preferred Rosen, who is a more polished passer but has had injury and concussions issues, plus a reputation for cockiness.
At least the Bills got their franchise quarterback. Allen comes with a lot of accuracy issues. Of the first seven picks, he was the first one whose shortcomings were emphasized by the TV commentators. It'll take time to find out if Beane hit the jackpot in his first draft.
It didn't cost the Bills a lot. They didn't have to give the 22nd overall pick or next year's. But if Allen doesn't pan out, will saving all the draft capital be worth it?