The 2018 NFL Draft first round has come and gone and following their two big trade ups and selections, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott spoke to the Buffalo media about their picks, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
Here is what they had to say:
Q: Brandon why Allen over Rosen?
Beane: Both are very good players... This is Buffalo. Big guy. An athlete. Really for his size, you look at all of the testing numbers and you look at the film. Very good athlete that makes plays in the pocket and on the run. He’s a really good kid. We did a lot of background on him and obviously the stuff came up today. We researched that and followed up with him, and we feel really good about it. He is Buffalo, you guys will see that when you meet him.
Q: When this thing played out were you a little bit surprised he was there after the first six? Was it patience paying off for you in this case because a lot of people thought you’d be making this trade to get someone before seventh?
Beane: Yeah. I mean we called around, but we were trying to be diligent and find what we thought was the best landing spot for us. Patience paid off to save the 22nd pick. That was part of it, we were willing to part with it, but we were also excited to keep it and it worked out in our favor to land in the seven spot.
Q: Brandon obviously you had said a little over a week ago that it’s a GM’s responsibility to get a franchise quarterback. How much do you believe despite the fact that he’s a little bit of a project with the accuracy, that was a knock on him, that he can develop? How confident are you that he can be a franchise guy?
Beane: No matter if we selected any quarterback, they all had something, a knock, on them. You’ve got to pick what you’re willing to deal with and work with. We just think his make-up is going to help him work on his flaws. We like a lot of his strengths and that will be part of our job here, is to accentuate his strengths and work on his fundamentals and the things that his so-called weaknesses are. I have no doubt he will do that John.
Q: Brandon, what gives you confidence that he can become a more accurate passer?
Beane: Just all of the work we did. Listen, college football is very hard to scout because you’re talking about different levels, different players. It’s not like scouting in pro where they are all playing at the same level against the same competition. The closest thing that Josh Allen had to that was playing at the Senior Bowl. Obviously we didn’t just select him off the Senior Bowl, but that’s the closest where he is playing with people that are closest to his skill level.
Q: Were you aware of his tweets prior to [Thursday] morning? What do you make of them? Why, when you talk about the character that Sean has mentioned so often in terms of that being so important to what you guys are trying to build, are you okay with those? Because they were filled with a lot racist and hateful language.
Beane: No. Listen we don’t condone anything. We did our due diligence on him, we talked to him today. We spoke to him. We spoke to his coach again. We spoke to at least one of his teammates. We spoke to a lot of other people again to make sure that everything we had done through our whole process through the fall. This was a fourteen/fifteen year-old, now I’m not making an excuse, but I know there is probably stuff that I would be disappointed in myself that I did at fourteen/fifteen. He’s going to come in here and own it. That is all he can do. He’s owned it and he’ll have to earn the trust of his teammates, the fanbase, the organization, and he has done all that he can do. He’ll have to do more when he gets here.
Q: Hey Sean, can you weigh in first on picking Josh as a quarterback and then also do you backup what Brandon said about the tweeting?
McDermott: Yeah, I will just start with the tweeting topic real quick because Brandon did cover it and do a nice job. It’s was very serious when we got word of it last night/this morning. It’s something that we went back and drilled down further on again. In terms of digging back into some of the same conversations that we had as we went through the process up until today. It’s not something we tolerate around here whatsoever and our hope is that he will learn from this and will move forward from here. As Brandon mentioned we also spoke to Josh himself at length so we take it very seriously.
As a player, like Brandon said, what you see on tape is size, athleticism, and we know how important playing in our conditions in terms of being able to throw the football, grip the football. He can make all of the throws and that type of stuff is some of the strengths that we saw. Certainly, as we know, no one is perfect and if you take the right approach, the right attitude, and you work at what you do you’ve got a chance to improve on some of those other areas. That’s our hope.
Q: Brandon was that a knock on Rosen, that he’s not Buffalo, that he can’t grip the ball in cold weather, was that a negative on Rosen?
Beane: No, it wasn’t. Josh Rosen is a very good player. He was very much in consideration for this. You have to make a decision, it’s not easy. The size and athleticism were some of the big strengths of Allen. I don’t mean to dismiss Josh Rosen, he’s a very good player. I just really want to focus on Josh Allen and that’s why we chose him.
Q: Do you see Tremaine Edmunds fitting in right away? I know he has some versatility, but where does he fit in on the defense?
McDermott: He is a versatile athlete. He’s got size, length as you mentioned, he has played inside, he has played outside as well, he has played on the line of scrimmage as well as off the line of scrimmage. Some of that flexibility is what attracted us to him as well. We are real happy with what we did and credit goes to Brandon and his staff.
Q: When something comes up the way it did last night and you wake up and see these tweets, how much did you second-guess your decision when you woke up this morning based on the tweets?
Beane: We had to do our due diligence, and try to understand what it was about and when these occurred. At first you just see it and you’re like “whoa” and we did that and I think that Sean said, or maybe someone else said it, but Terry and Kim [Pegula] were very involved in this process to vet it out. We all spoke to Josh, we spoke to people that are very close to Josh, including his head coach at Wyoming. This is not who this young man is today. I can’t speak to what he was as a fourteen/fifteen year old or what was being tweeted. We can’t find a person that would say anything negative about him, not one.
Q: Coach, in respect to just the first two picks so far, you’ve got some pretty young guys here so far. Has the dynamic changed at all or is that just pure coincidence?
SM: Every year is a little bit different. Every draft is different. You’re looking to find good football player. I don’t look for a certain outlier. They have to have a certain amount of years of experiences, they have to be a certain age, good football players, and guys that handle things the right way. You look for guys that can make plays and certainly the quarterback position gives you that ability. Then you look on the defensive side with Tremaine and the versatility that was mentioned earlier in terms of changing games, affecting the quarterback in a lot of different ways is part of what attracted us to Tremaine.
Q: How high do you think the ceiling is on these two guys?
McDermott: We earn things around here. So, let’s just start there and these two young men are going to come in and embed into what we do and how we do things here. We’ve got a lot of good players already in that locker room that do things the right way. You mentioned quarterback and I’m going to go to Nate Peterman and AJ [McCarron] and what they’ve done so far here. Then you go to the linebacker position with respect to Tremaine and Tanner [Vallejo], and what he has done this offseason. Let’s not lose sight of the guys that are already in that locker room and the work that they’re putting in.
Q: To get Josh, was there a spot where you knew it was now or never?
Beane: No. You’ve just got to feel it out. Part of the process as you’re going down the line of teams is who is willing to move. I think I talked about this in one of my pressers earlier. There were teams we talked to that were not willing to move, it didn’t matter what we were offering. They had a guy, if you have a guy that you are convicted on you’re not moving. That’s part of it, you’ve got to find out who will move and what it will cost to move and that’s how we ended up with Tampa.
Q: Brandon you had said that depending on who the team was that you were going to be dealing with would maybe decide who was making that phone call. For Tampa, who was inside the room that initially made the call and reached out to Tampa and how was that package worked?
Beane: [Assistant general manager] Joe Schoen initiated that call with them and we had some other calls going. Once Tampa got on the clock [Buccaneers general manager] Jason Licht gave me a shout back and we ironed it out. We had the close parameters, it was just finalizing the deal once Tampa was on the clock and they knew that we still wanted the pick.
Q: Brandon, was Josh the top guy you were targeting entering tonight or did you need to shift gears as things transpired at the top of the draft?
Beane: I don’t want to rank how we had them, but we obviously thought a lot of Josh and thought it was a worthwhile move to go from twelve to seven for the assets that we had to give up. Again, I don’t like giving up assets, but obviously we felt it necessary there. Then with Tremaine we did not expect that and he was there and we felt that we couldn’t let him fall any more. We needed that and thought it was a good fit for us.
Q: Was giving up both first round picks ever an option?
Beane: That was an option. Like I said, we had talks with teams where that was an option and saving either part of the twos or both of the twos. Sean can tell you, we worked on our math skills a lot today and point totals and who’s going to do what and teams calling you back. We had a lot of moving parts. Terry was very involved up there helping us. We literally were talking to about four or five teams as it progressed down the line just trying to find the ideal spot for us to land.
Q: When it comes to Josh’s tweets that have surfaced within the last twenty-four hours, did you reach out to guys like LeSean McCoy and Lorenzo Alexander and try to discuss with them so they don’t have a negative outlook on Josh before he even steps foot in here?
McDermott: Well our leadership, you mentioned a few of the guys within our leadership group there, they really take a lot of ownership in what we do and how we do things around here. We’ve spoken with a number of those individuals and we felt that that was important in terms of doing our due diligence as Brandon mentioned. We take these things seriously, as I mentioned before, in respect to adding any player. Then when this came up it went to another level and so we have spoken with a number of those players on our roster and that, in addition to what Brandon mentioned earlier, is what made us feel comfortable.
Q: Was there any worry, because you guys have been connected to Josh through national media and social media outlets, that you might be uncovered?
Beane: Yeah, I mean you’re always worried about what it’s going to cost you. I felt like a lot of people were looking at how much draft capital we had, talking to them earlier in the draft. I felt like people were trying to be aggressive with taking a lot of our assets and you’re always worried about player that you target. Even our second pick, Tremaine, once he started to fall a little bit we were like man if he can go a little bit further we can afford to move up and there is the last couple of picks before we made that move, we were holding our breath in there that we can make that move. We are excited to get them both, but as Sean said they both have to earn the right. Nothing is given here. It’s the same motto as when Sean got here and when I got here last year. They will both come in here and understand our culture. I think they will both fit very well and they will have to earn whatever playing time they get here, if any.
Q: The reaction to the Josh Allen pick on social media has been overwhelmingly negative, do you care at all?
Beane: No. We have to do what’s best for the Bills. We understand the position we are in. Not everyone is going to agree with the decision. If we had drafted a different quarterback I’m sure people probably would’ve disagreed with that for other reasons and we all know that quarterback is a hot topic no matter what. Even if Josh’s stuff that we had vetted out today had not been a part of it, I’m sure there would have still be social media or national media. We get it, but all we expect is for Josh to come in here and earn the trust and respect of his team. That’s the thing we care about, what’s inside this wall and the organization all the way up to Terry and Kim.
Q: What about for you personally? This is the first draft that you have run and this can potentially be a career defining pick?
Beane: We’ve got a lot of picks left, or at least some, I didn’t trade them all away yet. It’s one of those things where we will see what happens. He has to earn the right so it’s not like we did anything exceptional. You draft, you’re excited. Somebody said upsider talent. You’re excited about the young man that you’re bringing into the organization, but they will have to earn the right and we are still excited about the picks we have left. We know we’ve got work to do and hopefully some good players that fit what we are doing fall to us, I think our next pick is at the bottom of three.
Q: Tremaine has tremendous upside, he is very young he is nineteen, what is the learning curve like for a guy that young?
McDermott: Well it is a little bit unusual that he is nineteen, you don’t find that every year, that type of athlete at that age. We are able to bring in a number of players, thirty players according to league rules, so we were able to bring Tremaine in and also meet him at the combine. So we had multiple interactions with him and part of those interactions involved going through the mental part of the evaluation as well so we were comfortable.