The Buffalo Bills are extremely secretive, and have little-to-nothing in the way of information leaks. In order to understand Brandon Beane and how he operates, we need to look at his track record. What are his tendencies? What can we expect? In part four of this five-piece series, we revisit the 2021 NFL Draft to see what we can learn.
Notably, Brandon Beane continued his theme of loading up on picks with plenty of time before the draft, but exactly how early? Nearly three years early, as it would happen. Beane had moved depth OL Marshall Newhouse to the Carolina Panthers in September of 2018, in exchange for what would become a 2021 seventh-round draft pick (Jack Anderson). In 2019, he’d removed Zay Jones from the roster, and sent him to the at-the-time Oakland Raiders for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
Two moves from the previous year would have effects on the 2021 NFL Draft for the team. In trading for WR Stefon Diggs, the Buffalo Bills packaged away their 2021 fourth-rounder. Buffalo also lost their 2021 seventh-round pick, having sent it away with Wyatt Teller to receive Cleveland’s 2020 fifth and sixth-rounders.
2021 NFL Draft: Day One
With his first Round One draft pick in two years, Brandon Beane sat still. Perhaps he was unwilling to trade up for a target, or perhaps he was unable. Perhaps the target was exactly who fell to them at pick #30. The card was submitted, and the Buffalo Bills selected defensive end Gregory Rousseau out of Miami.
Beane’s early draft pick was spent on an athletic freak with limited experience and plenty of room for coaching. Notice a theme yet? ‘Groot’ had only one year of experience at his position, all the way back in 2019. Though he’d spent the time in between 2019 and 2021 training, it didn’t put him on film, nor did it fill teams with confidence. What he lacked in experience, he made up for in enthusiasm and fire. It was a major risk, but one that could pay massive dividends if it worked out in our favour.
Beane had addressed one of the team’s top areas of need by spending their premium draft capital on it. In 2018, it was an quarterback and a defensive cornerstone. For 2019, it was a powerhouse defensive tackle. In 2020, it was traded for a true WR1 and, in the 2021 NFL Draft, Beane chose to invest at defensive end.
If you read part two of this miniseries, you’d notice a pattern here. When their second-round pick rolled in, the Buffalo Bills sent their fans spiraling. They took a second defensive end. It was the second time in two years that the front office pursued a position of need with multiple assets, targeting a similar archetype. Carlos ‘Boogie’ Basham, a fitting last name, came out of Wake Forest as the 61st overall pick. He, too, was a player with impressive traits and areas where he needed significant coaching. He was powerful, and put in massive effort for every snap, but needed to work on stopping the run and continuing his technique past the first move. These areas are teachable areas.
Their third pick, number 93, was Spencer Brown, an offensive tackle out of Northern Iowa. The right side of the line was in need of work, though less of a pressing issue than our lack of pass rush the year prior. Brown had great length, and the instincts to mitigate any technical failures early in a snap. His unteachable traits helped make up for his shortcomings, and he had the tools to be a starting-quality right tackle early on.
Buffalo was missing their fourth rounder, due to the Stefon Diggs trade in 2020, but they had options. With the fifth round pick (#161) acquired from the Raiders in the Zay Jones deal, Brandon Beane doubled down again. He selected Tommy Doyle, an offensive tackle out of Miami University. Doyle was strong, capable of winning downs early, and versatile enough to play both sides of the line. An ideal backup and developmental prospect, he’s a late-round archetypical Beane selection.
Shortly after this move, our GM did something he’d never done before. For the first time in his career, Brandon Beane traded down. Sending our own fifth-round pick to Houston, we received two sixth-rounders (#203 and #212). They became Marquez Stevenson, a speedy WR with upside as a potential kick returner, and Damar Hamlin. Hamlin was an athletic safety prospect with physicality issues, who projected well to move to cornerback. A depth draftee, he provided versatility.
The last two picks were washes, and Sean McDermott openly admitted that the pandemic-affected collegiate year had disturbed their scouting process. Cornerback Rachad Wildgoose, the very next pick after Damar Hamlin (#213), had some good tape but was hampered by injury. He didn’t have much of what made the other Bills prospects to intriguing. The final pick of the draft was OL Jack Anderson, who tested out much like Wildgoose. Some positive unteachable traits, hampered by injuries to end his college career, and capable of good play equitable to the pro level based off his film. The hope seems to be that they would recover from injury and develop well.
What did we learn from looking at the 2021 NFL Draft?
Brandon Beane stocks up on draft capital regularly for moves up. However, if the team feels happy with the board, they’re willing to step off the podium. The move down doesn’t appear to be a trend, but as the next phase of roster construction comes along it may continue.
Beane is unafraid to double down when the team identifies a need. If they had a specific player they liked, getting them seems less pressing to the franchise than addressing weaknesses as a whole. They doubled down at edge rusher right away, and later selected two strong tackle prospects to support the offensive line.
Late draft picks in this season appeared to follow the same story. Getting a guy with injury history on the hope that they develop may be a trend, though it would require further discussion.
For the rest of this miniseries, click below:
|Summary: Understanding Brandon Beane|