With the NFL Draft just two weeks away, everyone is trying to guess who the Buffalo Bills will be taking this year. Although no one has a crystal ball to magically tell what is going to happen on April 25th, there is one trend that seems to have formed since Sean McDermottand Brandon Beane took over as head coach and general manager back in 2017. They love the Senior Bowl.
Since 2017, the Bills have had 11 players on their roster who have participated in the past two Senior Bowls. These players include from the 2017 Senior Bowl: Tre’Davious White, Zay Jones, Dion Dawkins, Connor McDermott, and Nathan Peterman. The 2018 Senior Bowl players are: Josh Allen, Harrison Phillips, Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, Levi Wallace, and Wyatt Teller.
So, what does this tell us? Well here’s the deal, of these 11 players, nine of them were acquired through the draft. This means that nine of the Bills 14 draft picks over the past two years, or 64 percent of them, were used on players who were in the Senior Bowl. On top of that, the Bills used two of the spots on the 90-man training camp roster last seasons on players who participated in the Senior Bowl (Levi Wallace in 2018 and Connor McDermott in 2017). In fact, the Bills had ten players who were in the Senior Bowl last year come into Buffalo for pre-draft visits. I found some very interesting data to show how much the Bills value Senior Bowl Players. I found that 169 senior bowl players were drafted in 2017-18, and there was a total of 448 picks (not including compensatory) so that is only 38 percent across the NFL, so the Bills (who are at 64 percent) are well above average.
This year, the Bills have had eight players from the Senior Bowl on pre-draft visits. These players include: Jaylon Ferguson, Tytus Howard, Elgton Jenkins, Amani Oruwariye, Deebo Samuel, Khalen Saunders, Montez Sweat, and Jace Sternberger.
It appears that the Bills love adding guys from the Senior Bowl to their roster. In an article on the Buffalo Bills official website about this year’s Senior Bowl, Sean McDermott talked about the importance of adding players from the Senior Bowl. “…I feel like when you stick with smart, tough guys that are hungry to be the best at what they do and are passionate about what they do, those are three good qualities to start with.” McDermott said, “That’s why we’re here. We believe in this process here. We get a chance to not only watch these young men perform on the field but also get a chance to be around them in the evening where we can interview them and get up close and personal with them, have a better understanding for who they are as people and what motivates them as professionals.” It’s clear the Bills have a sense of comfort with Senior Bowl and generally like the mindset of the players who are invited to the event.
Now, I can’t read the minds of McDermott and Beane, so I have as little of an idea as you do, as to whom they will be drafting in just a little less than two weeks. What I can tell you, is to familiarize yourself with the 2019 Senior Bowl roster because there is a very good chance that a couple of those players will be drafted by the Buffalo Bills. However, I will say this, out of the eight players that have come on visits, I would keep an eye on Jaylon Ferguson. Recent reports have suggested that it’s a three-man race between Jonah Williams, Andre Dillard, and Ed Oliver for the Bills at the ninth pick. So, if they are looking to add a pass rusher, Ferguson in the second or third round is very much on the table.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @mitchell_broder