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Did the Buffalo Bills poach Carolina Panthers 2017 NFL Draft picks?

The Bills picked players just ahead of the Carolina Panthers twice over the weekend.

On Friday, the Buffalo Bills made a pair of picks that raised eyebrows in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, the Carolina Panthers were about to be on the clock but Buffalo swooped in to pick possible targets. And some are saying it’s not necessarily a coincidence that former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was the one to make the moves.

John Wawrow of The Associated Press asked McDermott on Friday night whether he had traded ahead of the Panthers to take offensive lineman Dion Dawkins. Dawkins was a top target of Carolina and reportedly one of their pre-draft visitors. Here is what Wawrow had to say about the exchange.

“When I asked him if he had a gut feeling about what Panthers were going to do, McDermott laughed and laughed again and then said: ‘Well said.’ He then added that ‘you do your homework and you look at needs (of the Bills and other teams).’ He then noted the Panthers did take an (offensive lineman). Though unsure whether they were going to take Dawkins, he said: ‘We wanted our guy.”

Carolina took another offensive lineman with their next pick.

People were missing that it had already happened earlier in the second round, too. Buffalo traded up to pick wide receiver Zay Jones. That was three picks ahead of the Panthers picked, where they also picked a wide receiver.

Is it a coincidence that the Bills traded up ahead of Carolina twice to take the same position? Maybe. With the firing of Doug Whaley, some are speculating a current Panthers and future Bills front office member may have been tipping picks to Buffalo so they could trade up.

Panthers brass was asked about the Dawkins move over the weekend and they brushed it off. Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman wouldn’t say what his plan was (duh) and head coach Ron Rivera laughed it off, saying he was texting McDermott after the fact.

“I’m going to poke at him a little,” Rivera joked. He’ll get a chance in September when Buffalo travels to Charlotte for a date with the Panthers.