He did not make the 53-man roster coming out of training camp as a rookie in 2010. In fact he wasn't even on the team's practice squad at the beginning of last season. It wasn't until the Bills cut ties with Trent Edwards that Levi Brown was back at One Bills Drive. Now entering year two of his NFL career, there's a lot that Buffalo's coaching staff still needs to learn about Levi Brown to get a better handle on just what kind of quarterback he can be.
The Bills offensive staff was by no means foreign to Brown's skill set. He was performing on their practice field all spring and all summer after Buffalo made him a seventh-round pick. He appeared in three preseason games last season going 15-30 for 130 yards and a pair of interceptions. Brown also got some mop up duty in Buffalo's season-ending loss at New York where he only attempted three passes.
"Levi did a nice job of picking up what we did (offensively)," said Bills quarterbacks coach George Cortez. "He's got good skills and a lot of confidence. He's got a short memory. It doesn't really matter how bad a play was, it doesn't affect him. He's a smart kid. He picked things up smoothly."
The challenge for Buffalo's staff came in assessing how much progress he made through the course of last season. Most of his practice time after re-joining the club in Week 4 was spent running the scout team. Getting reps in Buffalo's offense during a game week wasn't really an option.
"When you've got a third quarterback he doesn't get many snaps," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "If your third quarterback is a rookie that has to learn he won't get many reps. To be honest, we don't know exactly what we've got in Levi."
Though a comprehensive evaluation of Brown's game might not yet exit, Cortez believes he was able to evaluate him in other ways.
"It is not just on the field stuff," he said. "We're in the meetings and you can tell by how they talk about things, how they ask questions what their level of understanding is and you can assess their progress along those lines."
What encouraged Cortez about Brown's future from the outset was his willingness to put in the extra time from the moment he first arrived at One Bills Drive.
"When we were done with OTAs the rookies were here a little while longer and he called me at home and we got together a couple of times," said Cortez. "He wants to do well and he has a good understanding, but like anything else he has his eureka moments too where he's saying, 'Oh that's why we do it that way.'"
One of Brown's biggest adjustments to the pro game was taking snaps from under center after working exclusively out of the shotgun in Troy University's spread system.
"He made a lot of strides there, but sometimes he's not really smooth and more mechanical with it," said Cortez. "It's just something he has to continue to do and I hope it's something he's been working on by himself this offseason."
Cortez maintains that there will be elements of Brown's game where he'll be able to effectively determine the young quarterback's progress including drill work and other competitive situations in practice. The ultimate gauge however, will be the two-minute drills in training camp and the live snaps he gets in preseason.
"We're going to try to find out about Levi," said Nix. "He needs to take snaps and he needs to play. We've got to get him some reps."