Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has been a bit of a wild card during the NFL draft in his first two with the team, orchestrating several trades. This year, however, he might have produced his most unexpected move yet — standing pat during all seven of his team’s picks.
“I’m always a curveball pitcher, today I just threw fastballs,” Beane joked after the draft. “I was trying to just give everybody something a little different.”
When the Bills’ pick in the fifth round came about, throwing a fastball meant taking the best player on the board — and to Beane, that player was Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm.
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With starter Josh Allen entering his third season, Fromm’s selection is far from a quarterback controversy. In fact, Beane said he hadn’t spent much time with the former Bulldog since the Bills were not in the “quarterback process.” But the work Beane and his staff did on Fromm convinced him that the 167th overall pick was a far enough slide.
“I wouldn’t have told you going into today that he was on our radar, but we had him in a spot that you just can’t ignore and we gave him his due,” Beane said. “This guy, he’s a winner at the highest level of college. You look at all the guys that come out of the SEC … He’s got all the intangibles. He’s smart.”
Typically reserved in his assessments, Beane made two things abundantly clear after the draft: Allen is the Bills’ starting quarterback and Fromm will have to earn his way onto their roster — even as a fifth-round pick.
Matt Barkley, a fourth-round pick by the Eagles in 2013 who spent last season as Buffalo’s backup to Allen, is in the final year of his contract. Also on the roster is Davis Webb, who spent a majority of last season on the Bills’ practice squad but was a third-round pick by the Giants in 2017.
“I don’t know if he’ll be able to knock Matt off. We’ll see about that,” Beane said of Fromm. “But we could definitely go with two quarterbacks, we could go with three quarterbacks. Davis Webb has not [had] a real chance to show us what he can do — he’s still in the mix right now.”
In Fromm’s defense, he has built his brand on beating out higher-rated quarterbacks.
Jacob Eason was Georgia’s incumbent starter when Fromm enrolled in 2017, but Eason was injured in the team’s first game of the season. Fromm took over the starting job and never relinquished it — even after Eason returned from injury later that season. Eason, who was drafted by the Colts in the fourth round on Saturday, eventually transferred to Washington.
The following year, Fromm beat out five-star freshman Justin Fields, who transferred to Ohio State in 2019 and finished the season as a Heisman Trophy finalist; Fields is expected to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when he declares for the draft.
Fromm’s potential as an NFL quarterback was scrutinized during his final year at Georgia, with many draft analysts projecting him as a career backup. He credits his faith for allowing him to block out the criticism and focus on himself.
It’s helped him develop a work ethic Beane said kept Fromm in Georgia’s facilities late into the night — a trait that captured Beane’s interest.
Fromm said he’s ready to bring that work ethic to Western New York, even if it’s in a role that’s unfamiliar.
“Every quarterback wants to be a starter. For me, I’ve been extremely blessed — I’ve played in every single game that I’ve dressed up,” he said. “So, you know, I have no idea exactly what I’m getting myself into. All I know is to stay humble and hungry and go in and make that [quarterback] room better in any way I can.
“I love this game of football. I love the competitive nature from it, I love the toughness, I love the physicality from it. You kind of have to battle this stuff out and at the end of the day, it’s part of [the job].”