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Bills Position Preview: QB job wide open

This is the first of a series previewing each position on the Buffalo Bills before the July 26 start of training camp.

It took 20 years, but the Buffalo Bills finally made a meaningful draft investment in a quarterback since a guy named Jim Kelly was leading them to Super Bowls.

The seventh overall choice they invested in Josh Allen is the highest they've ever spent on the position. Therefore, expectations that the former Wyoming standout will become the long overdue long-term answer are as high as ever.

AJ McCarron, who spent the past four seasons as a backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, was signed as a leading candidate to be the placeholder. However, Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round pick in 2017, showed during offseason practices that were open to the media he is very much in the competition for the right to serve as a temporary answer until the real one is ready to play.

Returnees: Nathan Peterman.

Newcomers: Josh Allen (draft), AJ McCarron (free agent).

Departures: Tyrod Taylor (trade to Browns).

What the numbers say: The Bills ranked second-to-last in the NFL last season with 2,825 passing yards. They were 27th with 16 touchdown passes and 25th with 10 interceptions.

What to expect: The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Allen looks every bit the part of the big, strong pocket passer coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane wanted.

His raw physical talent was evident during offseason practices open to the media. Although Allen spent the majority of the offseason working with the third team, it was clear from the very first session the talent and strength of his arm were many times greater than that of McCarron and Peterman. Predictably, he wasn't always as accurate as he needs to be to graduate to starter.

"I thought he put the ball in a position for plays to be made at times," McDermott told reporters. "Other times, he could’ve put the ball in a better position. Overall, I thought he handled himself well with room to grow."

QB Player Spotlight: Josh Allen's work in progress

Allen's performance in the third and final mandatory minicamp workout was his best. He not only threw with impressive velocity, but also with better accuracy than he showed earlier. The scheme of new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is complex, and Allen has plenty to learn.

"I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity," Allen told reporters last week after a mandatory minicamp practice. "I’m out there and throwing with guys like LeSean McCoy and throwing against guys like Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, and it felt good to throw with those guys, but also, (I’m) just learning. (I’m) taking those reps and taking the knowledge that comes with it.

"Micah Hyde came down and broke one of my passes up and I came up to him after practice and just asked what he saw," Allen said. "He saw my eyes, so just being able to talk with the defense like that and pick up on cues that they’re looking at in order to make plays on the football, because they get paid to play this game, too. (I’m) just learning from all the reps that I take."

Still, McDermott said Allen looked "a little bit further along" than where the team expected him to be "in some areas."

His progress could very well cause him to move up the depth chart during training camp and the preseason. In the meantime, McCarron and Peterman will try to separate from each other by demonstrating which one has the best grasp of the offense. McCarron might have a modest edge in experience with four career starts, but Peterman made a surge during OTAs and should have something to say about who gets the No. 1 job.

Asked about Allen getting some first-team action in offseason workouts, McCarron said, "Well, I mean, probably part of it is (the fact that) he is the seventh overall pick, so I think he would at some point. I just go play my game; I don’t worry about it."

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