Prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, I said that Brian Brohm would be a better quarterback in the NFL than Matt Ryan… Yes, I said it and I will continue to believe it. I don’t care what happened to Brohm in Green Bay, anyone who understands the draft and the psychology of it all, success is achieved based on the situation you’re placed. And unfortunately for Brohm, the situation in Green Bay never suited him, but the opportunity in Buffalo is intriguing and eerily familiar.
At one point, Brohm was considered a top-10 selection, and now the Bills are hoping he lives up to that potential.
Seventeen years ago, the Packers were on the opposite end of a deal that sent a highly touted second-year quarterback packing. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Southern Miss quarterback Brett Favre in the second round of the 1991 draft, much to the chagrin of head coach Jerry Glanville who at the time said, “It would take a plane crash for him to put the rookie into the game.” Glanville wasn’t joking; Favre attempted just five passes during his rookie year and at the end of the season was traded to the Packers for a first round pick.
We all know how that deal worked out for Green Bay, and even though the Packers were unable to get anything in return for Brohm, there’s a chance they will regret the day they allowed Brohm to get away.
When you look back at Brohm’s sensational collegiate career at Louisville, he was a premier prospect who in most scouting circles was labeled as a franchise quarterback. During his junior year at Louisville, a year where Brohm missed two games in the middle of the season with an injury, he ultimately led the Cardinals to an Orange Bowl victory against Wake Forest and finished the year completing 63.6-percent of his passes for 3,049 yards, 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions. After that amazing finish, Brohm was faced with a difficult decision – declare for the NFL Draft where he would have been a top-10 selection, or stay in school for his senior year and challenge for a National Championship.
Brohm decided to stay, but in hindsight, he should have left school.
When Brohm made the announcement that he was going to stay at Louisville for his senior year, his Head Coach Bobby Petrino decided to leave Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons. When Petrino made his announcement, Brohm began to reconsider his decision, but decided to stay after he had a lengthy discussion with new coach Steve Kragthrope. Brohm understood that a new system would be in place and it wasn’t going to be an easy transition.
Even though the transition was tough and Louisville finished with a disappointing 6 – 6 record, Brohm had his most productive statistical season - he completed 65.1-percent of his passes for 4,024 yards, 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Even with his success as a senior under difficult circumstances, the failure of not being able to lead Louisville back to a major bowl game didn’t sit well with scouts. As a result, the flaws in his game were magnified, and his overall makeup as a quarterback was questioned throughout the draft process. And after being poked and prodded in front of numerous NFL executives, Brohm fell to the second round and lost his chance of landing in a situation where he could realistically compete for a starting job.
There’s no position in professional sports more critiqued and overanalyzed than the quarterback position, and during his time in Green Bay, Brohm was under the microscope but without a clear perspective of his role. The odds were against Brohm from the beginning with Aaron Rodgers comfortably in place as the Packers starting quarterback, and even if Brohm was phenomenal in practice and during preseason games, he was never going to supplant Rodgers as the starter unless Rodgers got hurt.
Brohm left No. 11 in Green Bay and is hoping that No. 4 brings better play in Buffalo.
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When the Packers selected Brohm, they viewed it as a win-win scenario. Even though Brohm fell in the draft, many believed that he would eventually develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL. And if that development occurred while he was on the Packers roster, Green Bay would then cash in their investment and trade him for a much higher draft pick then they used to select him. Unfortunately, that never materialized for the Packers, and in the end, Brohm was unable to beat out ’08 seventh round quarterback Matt Flynn for the backup job behind Rodgers. And after being inactive for all 16 games last year and being reduced to the Packers practice squad for 10 weeks this year, Brohm’s journey ended in Green Bay and will continue in Buffalo.
The Bills signed Brohm off of the Packers practice squad last week and gave him a two-year contract. The two-year deal is interesting considering the Bills current coaching and quarterback situations. A couple of days before the front office decided to sign Brohm, they relieved Dick Jauron of his head coaching duties and named defensive coordinator Perry Fewell interim coach. Fewell didn’t waste any time making a change on the field, naming Ryan Fitzpatrick the Bills starting quarterback over Trent Edwards. Both Fitzpatrick and Edwards don’t figure to be in the Bills’ long-term plans, and bringing Brohm into the fold now to learn the offense will allow him to get comfortable with his surroundings. Speaking of comfort, Brohm joins his best friend and former center at Louisville, Bills 2009 first round pick Eric Wood.
The offense will most likely have a different look next year; it all depends on who’s calling the shots from the sideline. Earlier this week, it was reported that former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan interviewed for the Bills vacancy, and it appears that he’s the favorite to land the post. The Bills are aggressively searching for a big name coach to bring in and don’t want to settle for a secondary figure like Fewell. Obviously, if you bring in a high profiled coach, he will want to hand pick his signal caller. And with the Bills likely to hold a top-10 pick in the 2010 draft, drafting a quarterback is a possibility, but adding a premier left tackle in the first round should be the team’s No. 1 priority.
It’s been a newsworthy two-week span for the Bills, the most news reported nationally about the team since the arrival of Terrell Owens in Orchard Park. And this week, a Bills legend spoke out about the quarterback position in Buffalo; Hall of Famer Jim Kelly endorsed Florida’s Tim Tebow as the next quarterback of the Bills.
"Whether it's Tim Tebow, whether they'll have a shot at him when draft time comes ... you have to look at the top three quarterbacks in the draft and really study them,” Kelly said in an interview with USA Today. “You look for a guy with good character, good leadership ability and good arm strength -- and a guy who doesn't come from California.”
Brohm fits the criteria that Kelly stated, and while Tebow is a tremendous talent at the collegiate level, he’s not ready to be an NFL quarterback in 2010. Tebow has to be in a situation where he has time to study a playbook, work on his mechanics, and learn from an established veteran for two or three years. Buffalo isn’t a fit for Tebow, but a situation like the one Brohm was faced with in Green Bay is ideal.
The smart move for Buffalo is to develop Brohm the rest of the season, allow him to start a game, sell the new head coach on Brohm as the team’s starting quarterback next year and see if No. 4 can resurrect his career up North. Ironic, isn’t it?
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.