ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh Allen is grateful the Buffalo Bills maintained their faith in him after a last-minute controversy erupted over a series of racially insensitive tweets the Wyoming quarterback posted while still in high school.
Saying the comments don’t reflect the person he has become, Allen vowed it’s on him to prove to everyone how much he’s matured.
"I do take it on the chin," Allen said during a conference call Thursday night, shortly after being selected with the seventh pick in the NFL draft.
"I’m extremely grateful that they went out of the way, they stuck out their neck for me," he added, noting he was parroting rap lyrics and catchphrases from TV and pop culture. "Now it’s my chance to go prove and make sure they look like they made the right move by trading up for me."
After spending the day having to be re-assured they didn’t miss anything in regards to Allen’s character, the Bills went ahead and traded up five spots to make him just the fourth quarterback selected in the first round in team history.
Along with swapping first-round picks with Tampa Bay, Buffalo also gave up its two second-round selections — 53rd and 56th — in Brandon Beane’s first draft as general manager.
Beane said he was taken aback when Yahoo Sports on Wednesday night revealed Allen sent the now-deleted tweets.
"Listen, we don’t condone anything. We did our due diligence," Beane said of spending the day talking to Allen as well as his former Wyoming coaches and teammates.
"This was a 14- and 15-year-old. I’m not into making an excuse, but I know there’s probably things that I would be disappointed myself that I did at 14 or 15," Beane said.
"And he’s going to own it. That’s all he can do. He’s owned it. And he’s going to have to earn the trust of his teammates, the fan base, our organization."
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said Allen had "great relationships with his teammates and our fan base" and Allen "embraced diversity" while at Wyoming.
After selecting Allen, Beane made another move up by trading Buffalo’s No. 22 selection to Baltimore in order to fill a big need on defence by selecting Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds with the 16th selection. Buffalo also traded its third-round pick, 65th overall, while acquiring the Ravens’ fifth-round pick (154th overall).
Edmunds, who turns 20 on Tuesday, is listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and was a two-year starter at Virginia Tech. He led the Hokies with 109 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks and named a Butkus Award finalist last season.
He will be given an opportunity to take over the middle linebacker spot after Buffalo lost starter Preston Brown in free agency last month.
Much of the focus will be placed on Allen, who carries the expectations of filling what’s been an unsettled position in Buffalo since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season.
The Bills have had 13 quarterbacks start at least five games since, including three-year starter Tyrod Taylor, who was traded to Cleveland last month despite helping the Bills to a 9-7 finish and snap the franchise’s 17-year playoff drought.
At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Allen is a strong-armed but occasionally inaccurate passer after spending the past three years at Wyoming. He finished 365 of 649 for 5,066 yards passing with 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 27 games with the Cowboys.
Allen is from Firebaugh, California, and was not heavily recruited coming out of high school. He instead spent his freshman year playing at California’s Reedley Community College, before going to Wyoming in 2015.
An NFL draft scouting report billed Allen as likely being "the biggest boom or bust quarterback prospect in the draft." Though he has prototypical size, he was knocked for his 56.2 career completion percentage at Wyoming.
Allen chuckled and said, "don’t do it," when asked what fans might make of his statistics.
Allen then said spending three years playing in the windy and snowy elements at Laramie, Wyoming, qualifies him to play in Buffalo, where the conditions can also become harsh come November.
"Being in Laramie, out of all four, five quarterbacks in this draft, I’m the one that was suited for Buffalo," Allen said. "Hopefully, I call this place home for the next 15 to 20 years."
The first question is when he might be deemed ready to become a starter on a team that has two other untested quarterbacks: Free-agent addition A.J. McCarron , who spent the past four seasons serving as Andy Dalton’s backup in Cincinnati; and Nathan Peterman, best remembered for throwing five interceptions in the first half of a blowout loss to the Chargers in his rookie season.
The Bills also acquired a seventh-round pick, 255th overall, in the trade with Tampa Bay. The deals leave them with six picks in the draft, including a third-rounder — 96th overall — on Friday.