As we continue on our journey to understand our beloved GM, and the way he operates, we arrive at the 2019 NFL Draft. As we know, the Buffalo Bills are a secretive organization. The building is locked down, and no news gets in or out. Brandon Beane is in full draft mode, but what can we gleam from his actions in 2019? What are his tendencies? What can we expect in 2022? Let’s get into it.
2019 NFL Draft: Day One
“We think we’re at a real good spot at nine”– Brandon Beane, before the 2019 NFL Draft
Sometimes, you have to go and get your guy, and sometimes he comes to you. Staying put at ninth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Brandon Beane got the supposed ‘steal of the draft’ in DT Ed Oliver out of Houston. Regularly compared to Aaron Donald throughout the pre-draft process, Oliver was an NFL-ready prospect available at a position of need. It made perfect sense. Beane and McDermott have both waxed lyrical about the importance of ‘building through the trenches’, and this selection was an example of that. This pick doesn’t tell us much about our GM, however.
On day two, we saw some of what Brandon Beane had done the year before. Clearly concerned that the player he wanted, Cody Ford, wasn’t going to fall to 40th, he traded up. That aggressive approach isn’t new. The Buffalo Bills sent the 40th and 158th picks (obtained in the A.J. McCarron trade) to the Oakland Raiders to jump two spots to 38th. In snagging Cody Ford, Beane was trying to address the OL early and continue to ‘build through the trenches’. The pick may not have worked out how we all hoped, but it displays his commitment to his ideals.
Having struggled in the run game in 2018, due to the outbound LeSean McCoy’s injuries and the lack of offensive line cohesion, Beane wanted to put some weapons around Josh Allen. He’d already gone out and signed WRs John Brown and Cole Beasley, RB was next in the pecking order. Under the impression that the line was significantly improved, aiding Allen with a cohesive run game was clearly the goal. Singletary targeted a current and future need.
You may have noticed a pattern, over the last draft, of taking players with incredible athletic traits and little-to-no polish. We’ve seen Beane and McDermott take these players, invest time, and grow them into starters. They got aggressive again, sending the 112th and 131st picks to Washington in exchange for the 96th selection. At pick number 96 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected TE Dawson Knox. A physical player in need of coaching, Knox was called ‘a promising ball of clay’.
Yet another physical specimen in need of coaching, LB Vosean Joseph was selected with the Buffalo Bills’ fifth-round pick (147). He had all the traits needed to contribute to our LB core, which was in need of a third starting-caliber player to run more traditional 4-3 positional groupings. Much like the drafting of CB Taron Johnson in 2018 and the signing of TE O.J. Howard in the 2022 offseason, the front office understands that adding versatility to a position group allows us the freedom to run different personnel sets.
Safety Jaquan Johnson, the Buffalo Bills’ 181st pick (round six), was an odd choice for a cornerback. He had the toughness and physicality to compete, with few mental errors, but was consistently out-run, and out-sized. He was an option to move to the slot based off his frame and skill-set, but never did in college. The Bills were in need of a CB2 at the time, and this was a flyer on a guy with real potential, if he could ever reach it. Low-risk, high-reward.
More late-round picks, more athletes in need of polish. At this point, it’s clearly established that Brandon Beane has a type. Darryl Johnson was our seventh-round pick, taken at 225th, and he had absolutely no polish. A physical player with a good frame, plenty of length, and flexibility, there was real potential to see a boom.
In 2017, Brandon Beane gained an extra 2019 seventh-round pick by trading away CB Kevon Seymour to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for WR Kaelin Clay. With the extra pick, number 228, Brandon Beane selected TE Tommy Sweeney. Tight end had been a position of weakness, and the team doubled down to make a difference for Josh Allen. Tommy Sweeney was a good blocker with above-average hands. His physicality held him back but he filled a definite need for the offense.
What We Learned: 2019 NFL Draft
Unlike the last draft, Buffalo selected most of their players with their own picks. Brandon Beane was content to sit still as the board worked out in his favour. He was still aggressive when targeting players they felt they really needed. The Buffalo Bills waited for Ed Oliver and Devin Singletary, but traded up for Cody Ford and Dawson Knox.
The search for prospects in need of work is unending, and the team clearly has a type. Players who have plenty of potential but aren’t close to reaching it yet are something we’re always on the look out for. Trusting in your coaches to work with incoming coal and turn them into diamonds isn’t a problem for them.
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|Summary: Understanding Brandon Beane|