When the Buffalo Bills exited the weekend of the 2010 NFL Draft without a high-round rookie quarterback, many league analysts guessed that Bills GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey were high on third-year pro Brian Brohm. The former Louisville star, a second-round pick of Green Bay in 2008, had been with the Bills for only a few months, was the best college player of any Bills QB by a considerable margin, and most believed he still had untapped potential.
Nearly four months removed from that point in time, Brohm is firmly ensconced as the No. 3 QB on Buffalo's depth chart. He did not play in the team's pre-season opener against Washington. Tomorrow night, however, Brohm will finally get his opportunity to shake up the team's depth chart at the game's most critical position.
Brohm has a lot to prove. For one, he needs to prove that he's re-gained the confidence, assertiveness and moxie that made him an outstanding collegiate passer, and which he lost nearly in full in two highly disappointing seasons in Green Bay. He also needs to prove that he's capable of executing an NFL offense, something he has not yet done even in pre-season action. Most importantly, however, he needs to prove that he's mentally capable of delivering on the great deal of physical promise he does possess.
A three-year starter at Louisville, Brohm might have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft (an honor that went to one of the greatest draft busts in league history, JaMarcus Russell) had he decided to leave college early. He stayed, was a slight disappointment as a senior, and fell to the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He finished his college career with 780 completions (at a 65.8% completion percentage), 10,775 yards, 70 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Louisville went 21-4 in Brohm's sophomore and junior seasons under head coach Bobby Petrino, including a win in the Orange Bowl, but finished just 6-6 in Brohm's senior season under new head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Brohm's career with Green Bay, which lasted less than two years, was an unmitigated disaster. He was terrible in pre-season action and did not impress on the practice field or in the classroom; tabbed to be Aaron Rodgers' primary backup as a rookie, he lost that spot to a fellow rookie, seventh-round pick Matt Flynn. He was waived prior to the start of the 2009 regular season, re-signed to Green Bay's practice squad a day later. On November 19, 2009, Brohm was signed off of Green Bay's practice squad by the Bills; Brohm turned down a contract from the Packers in the process.
Barely a month later, Brohm made his professional debut on December 27, 2009, when injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards forced him into the lineup. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 146 yards with two interceptions in an embarrassing 31-3 road loss to Atlanta.
Brohm has never thrown a touchdown pass at the NFL level, even during pre-season action. He does, however, have six interceptions, and his most noteworthy pass to this point in his career came in that loss to Atlanta, in which he threw the pass that became the 1,000th reception of Terrell Owens' career. It is flabbergasting that any Bills fan reached a point in his or her thought process that a player with Brohm's resume at the professional level stood any sort of chance of claiming the team's starting job.
It still appears very unlikely that he'll get that chance. Edwards has taken every first-team snap during training camp and the pre-season, and that's not likely to change any time soon. The best Brohm can hope for at this point in time is to beat out Fitzpatrick for the backup job, and as Fitzpatrick hasn't exactly set the world on fire this summer, there's still a very good chance that a competent Brohm can win that particular battle. As it stands right now, Buffalo's depth chart at QB hasn't changed in quite some time. Brohm may not make a push to start, but he can help to shake things up at a position that could use a little change.
Gailey remains high on Brohm's potential, for what that's worth. In his signature honest remarks to BuffaloBills.com, Gailey had the following to say about his biggest quarterback enigma:
"He’s very smart. He know where to go with the football. He’s got good velocity on the ball. He just needs to work on continual accuracy," said Gailey. "That’s really been his only issue. He’s got good intelligence for football and understands defenses, which is part of playing quarterback, you’ve got to understand defense."
Brohm will run the second-team offense against Indianapolis tomorrow night, and could get anywhere between two and three quarters' worth of playing time, as Fitzpatrick will sit this one out. The time is now if Brohm is going to do anything to change the way the Bills - from Ralph Wilson right on down to the fans - view the quarterback position.