The Buffalo Bills as we know them today are an enigma. The building is locked down. No news gets in or out, as Brandon Beane builds the team as he sees fit. Unfortunately, draft season is especially quiet, as the secretive nature of the event is magnified. To truly understand Beane’s methods, one must be inside the building. Us outsiders can only try to gleam something from his track record. From the 2018 NFL Draft to today, we have enough information to try to understand him. What are his tendencies? What can we expect? Let’s get into it.
2018 NFL Draft: Round One
This was Brandon Beane’s first draft as the GM, and he immediately got aggressive. Buffalo had a ton of capital, and were in desperate need of a franchise QB. Through a series of trades, starting all the way back in the 2017 preseason, Brandon Beane had loaded up for big moves.
Prepping for one of the most exalted quarterback classes in 20 years, Buffalo’s cards were close to their chest. That secrecy only did so much. Everyone knew they were going after a QB. In trading away Tyrod Taylor, we’d left Nathan Peterman as the only quarterback on the roster. They signed A.J. McCarron right after, but the intent was clear.
Beane sent an overpaid, injured lineman by the name of Cordy Glenn, our 21st overall pick, and a fifth rounder to the Bengals. In exchange, we received the 12th overall pick and a sixth rounder. The road to drafting Josh Allen was a long one, but it culminated with Brandon Beane sending that 12th overall pick, alongside our own second rounder and the second round pick obtained in the Sammy Watkins trade a year prior, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their seventh overall selection
Allen was a Buffalo Bill. The night wasn’t done, howver, let alone the rest of the draft. He traded up again, only nine picks later. The trade package that went to the Ravens included the 22nd overall pick, obtained in 2017 when we traded away the pick that became Patrick Mahomes, as well as the third round pick secured from Cleveland in the Tyrod Taylor trade. Brandon Beane secured Tremaine Edmunds, and a fifth round pick, in return.
As part of his mission to load up for his first draft with the Bills, Brandon Beane had traded away CB Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for WR Jordan Matthews and Philly’s third-round pick. No ammunition goes unspent so, late in day two, Brandon Beane had only one pick left. With that pick from the Eagles, Buffalo selected DT Harrison Phillips. Run defense had been a weakness, and Phillips was intended to be part of the solution to that problem.
To start day three, Buffalo actually used their own draft pick, taking CB Taron Johnson in the fourth round. It was the only time in 2018 that the Buffalo Bills selected at their original pick. Buffalo’s secondary had been decimated and bounced right back, but the reconstruction wasn’t finished. Playing to his coach’s strengths, Beane invested wisely.
Following Johnson came Siran Neal and Wyatt Teller in round five of the 2018 NFL Draft, as Buffalo targeted areas on both sides of the ball that they felt were important building blocks. Neal was already expected to contribute on special teams, and has since become a staple of that unit. Teller was a physically imposing player, but couldn’t play in space and often became disengaged from the snap. Brandon Beane bet on a guy with traits who needed coaching as the offensive line was rebuilt from scratch.
Plenty of great players have come from late-round picks, and in order to help develop their fresh-faced quarterback, Buffalo snagged two receivers to end the class. Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl. McCloud was a versatile gadget player, but he lacked a defined position. Betting on traits again, Beane hoped to develop him much like a lot of the other players in this draft class. Proehl, however, was likely one of the few whiffs we’ve seen from our GM. The son of a former colleague of Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott, Proehl already had a relationship with the two. A throw away on the second-to-last pick of the draft, this selection may well have been nepotism in action.
We should note: CB Levi Wallace, WR Robert Foster, and OL Ike Boettger were all undrafted free agents signed once the draft ended.
What Do We Know
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Brandon Beane was aggressive in his attempts to move up the board, openly willing to sacrifice capital to get the guy they feel they need. We should note: This may have been a one-time development, if we observe it in a vacuum, as they needed the foundations upon which to build this franchise. Talent like Josh Allen doesn’t come around often. It’s likely that neither Beane nor McDermott have a job right now if he didn’t work out.
One thing that both the Allen and Edmunds picks taught us is that this team likes to bet on traits early, and assume they can coach up unrefined talent. Brandon Beane will also bet on players who are rough around the edges later in the draft, if they fit a future need, as evidenced by the Taron Johnson and Siran Neal selections. Being able to invest time in a player once they’re drafted is a massive boon.
Later in the 2018 NFL Draft, Beane looked to plug holes, unless there was a great value option on a potential future starter.
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|Summary: Understanding Brandon Beane|