Bills trade up five spots to select quarterback Josh Allen with 7th pick
Tampa Bay received two second-round picks -- Nos. 53 and 56 -- along with the 12th overall pick from Buffalo, which also acquired the 255th pick.
But more important, the Bills landed who they hope is their quarterback of the future in Allen, who has endured a firestorm of scrutiny in the past 24 hours after racially insensitive tweets he sent while in high school were made public Wednesday night.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane said he was surprised to read the tweets when they surfaced and did not previously know about them.
"He's a really good kid," Beane said. "We did a lot of background on him. Obviously some stuff came up today. We researched that, followed up with him. We feel very good about it.
"We did our due diligence on him. We talked to him today. We spoke to him. We spoke to his coach again. We spoke to at least one of his teammates. We spoke to a lot of other people again to make sure everything we had done through our whole process through the fall [matched up]. I'm not making an excuse, but I know there are probably things I would probably be disappointed in myself that I did at 14 or 15. He's gonna come in here and own it. That's all he can do. He's owned it. He'll have to earn the trust of his teammates, the fan base and the organization. He's done all he could do and he will have to do more when he gets here."
Beane told Sports Illustrated that Allen was emotional during the afternoon call.
"At first, he was very direct and contrite," Beane told SI. "As we talked to him about this thing, he was emotional. You could hear the tears on the other line. We told him, 'Collect yourself.' And he owned up to it."
Allen, who Beane said spoke Thursday with owners Terry and Kim Pegula after the tweets emerged, thanked the Bills for drafting him.
"It was a tremendous relief," Allen told reporters after being selected. "I got the news last night about everything happening. I was extremely down in the dumps. I was very emotional, just because I know that's not me. I'm not the same person I was six years ago. Whatever happened, happened. I think it happened for a reason.
"I definitely think I was destined to be a Buffalo Bill, and I'm extremely grateful that they went out of their way and stuck out their neck for me. Now it's my chance to go prove and make sure they look like they did the right move in trading up for me."
Allen also was asked whether he would address the content of the tweets with his new Bills teammates.
"I don't have to, but I probably will," he told ESPN. "I want them to know that I'm going to work to be the best teammate possible."
"Both are very good players," Beane said. "Just talking about Allen, [he's] big. This is Buffalo. Big guy. An athlete. Really, for his size, you look at all the testing numbers, you look at the film -- very good athlete. Makes plays in the pocket and on the run."
Allen completed 56 percent of his passes at Wyoming. When asked on a conference call what he would tell fans who want to examine his college statistics, Allen cracked, "Don't do it. Don't look at the stats. Trust me.
"Watch some game film. Watch some of the stuff that I can do. I think that very few other quarterbacks can do some of the stuff that I can do. I take pride in that."
Allen told ESPN that he was "going to make [the Bills] look like the smartest people out there."
Allen, who figures to compete with AJ McCarron for the starting job with the Bills, is the highest-selected quarterback in Bills history. He becomes the fourth quarterback selected in the first round by Buffalo in the common draft era, joining Jim Kelly (No. 14 in 1983), J.P. Losman (No. 22 in 2004) and EJ Manuel (No. 16 in 2013).
Kelly liked the selection of Allen.
Buffalo also traded up in the first round for Tremaine Edmunds, selecting the Virginia Tech linebacker at No. 16. The Bills gave up the Nos. 22 and 65 picks in their deal with the Baltimore Ravens while acquiring a fifth-round pick (No. 154).
The Bills, who entered the draft with two picks in each of the first three rounds, went 9-7 last season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Tampa Bay used the 12th pick to take defensive tackle Vita Vea from Washington. Bucs GM Jason Licht said Thursday that Buffalo made a "great offer" for the seventh pick, an indication he knew what the Bills were after.
"When you're going after a quarterback, you can't say that was a bad deal on their part," Licht said. "You have to be willing to spend a little bit more than you normally would to move up the board. So, we got the call, we thought about taking our guy there. He was in play there. We would have been very happy taking him there.
"We took a risk moving back. All the work that we did, intel that we did, we knew that there was a pretty good shot [we could get Vea]. A couple of teams there we were a little nervous about, but we also had other players that we could have taken, too. Fortunately for us, we're sitting here talking about Vita. I couldn't be happier."
Information from ESPN's Jenna Laine was included in this report.