The Buffalo Bills only had one pick on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. They used their 96th pick in the draft on Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. Phillips was labeled as a fit for the Bills long before the draft. Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott spoke to the media about their latest draft pick.
Here is what the duo had to say:
Opening Statement from Brandon Beane:
That was cool with Pancho Billa announcing that pick. Cool story and we’re all praying for him. Sent chills up everybody’s spine in the draft room, so I just wanted to acknowledge that. We’ll start with questions.
Q: What was the first meeting like [with Harrison Phillips] and what’s it like when you have a guy in the room, I assume you just connected kind of right away with this guy?
McDermott: Yeah, going back really to give proper credit: Brandon [Beane] and his staff, again, did a good job through the research. Getting to know Harrison [Phillips] was not hard. He’s the type of guy we look for. The wrestling background certainly really is an added benefit. It’s an important part playing good football, too, in terms of leverage and everything and the mental toughness that goes along with the sport. I know where he’s from in Nebraska and it’s an area I spent some time in growing up, as well, in that area a little bit there, or around that area. My folks lived around that area, so we know what we’re getting. [It was a] good pick for us and give credit to Brandon and his staff, I thought they did a good job with it.
Q: How do you envision sort of the bigger picture? Kyle [Williams] is going to be 35, in his 13th season. Where do you see him fitting in right away?
Beane: I’ll let Sean talk about him as a player [and] where you’re going to use him.
McDermott: He’ll go into the defensive line room and rotation and, just like we’ve said before, he’s got to earn his spot on this roster, but you look at the qualities that he has with his strength, the intelligence, he’s played and seen a lot in terms of his college career. [He’s] extremely powerful, good in the run game, has the ability, also, to affect the quarterback, so he’ll go right into that room and compete in terms of our depth as well, which is big when we play 3, 4 defensive lineman, in particular, defensive tackles within a game. That’s big for us.
Q: Sean, in your mind, is that a fair comparison for him is Kyle? That’s the one that’s been made pretty frequently.
McDermott: Yeah, I’m not going to compare; I don’t do that. I try and stay away from that as much as possible. It’s not fair to Kyle or Harrison in this case. He’s a good player and deserves all the recognition that he’s gotten and as has Kyle. You’re talking about two guys at two different stages of their careers as well. You’ll get to know Harrison when he comes in. You read about what he’s been able to do not only on the football field but also in the community as well as his wrestling accolades. He’s had some background with track and field as well, so [he’s a] good athlete.
Q: Not so much of the quality of comparing of the players, but the playing style with what Harrison is able to do technique wise and how that might compare to Kyle’s and what he’s able to do.
McDermott: Yeah, I mean just as far as what Harrison does, I’ll talk about that. He’s more of what we’ll call one technique, I would say. [He’s] extremely strong, which is important to anchor down the middle of our defense, run defense, [and] the power that goes along with that. You saw his numbers, what he was able to do in the bench press at the combine, so [he’s] extremely strong, extremely powerful, dedicated, a guy that’s extremely competitive, you name it in terms of those winning qualities. That’s what you feel when you’re around this young man.
Q: After spending yesterday making all these splashes and being active and doing math and all this stuff, how did you manage to stay engaged waiting 80 picks while knowing you had so many needs to address and how much did you start looking ahead to tomorrow and setting up that part, using that time to set up that part of the board?
Beane: We definitely did. Those guys handcuffed me to the chair so we didn’t move up because it’s hard sitting there for a while to watch good players go off the board. Again, we were excited to get Harrison and we did discuss who might be there tomorrow, especially once we get close to our pick. As Sean, to echo what he said, the thing you’ll see about Harrison is his motor, his effort, he’s super smart, his wrestling background helps with the leverage, his power. The way they played him at Stanford, he played a lot of just right on the nose, it’s not really a pass rushing spot, you know, you’re just bowling guys back. A lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage that he either made for himself or he created for others. I think that’s what you’ll see depending on how Sean and Leslie [Frazier] use him.
Q: Sean, for a guy like Adolphus [Washington] now, because you added to the defensive tackle room, is he more of a one or a three for where he slots in?
McDermott: He’s played both in the past for us, I’ll just speak on last year. Adolphus has played both, which offers great flexibility. He’s got great athleticism as well, so that’s good; we’ve got good competition in that room, which I know Brandon and I both believe in fortifying our offensive and defensive lines. That’s important to us, philosophically.
Q: Give or take how many times do you think the word ‘wrestling’ was used in all the conversations you had with him?
Beane: Sean tried to wrestle him in the room at the Senior Bowl [laughs].
McDermott: [laughs] you’re not supposed to say that.
Beane: Yeah, he actually shook his hand and grabbed him, this kid flinched like that, it was pretty good.
Q: Did you have any conversations about the 96th pick, either up or down before you ended up making the selection?
Beane: Yes, we did. There were a couple teams that were checking around, but they really weren’t offering anything that made sense. We really didn’t look to go up, but if somebody gave us something worthwhile, we would’ve considered going down. We thought Harrison was too good to pass up at that point.
Q: You mentioned the ranking that we see or use are probably different than what yours are, but by all accounts, you got pretty good value here with Harrison. Do you feel that way, too?
Beane: Yeah, we do. I mean, I think he’s going to come in and, as Sean said, earn the right [and] compete. He’s a great young man; you guys are going to love him. He’s super smart, scored very high on the wonderlic [test] and you see it when you talk to him. He’s versatile. He’s going to come in, he’s hungry. It’s funny, I’m sure he did this with a lot of teams, but he sent a very nice text about our visit with him and he thought he fit here. I know he talked to Trent Murphy and things like that. When we got on the phone with him, he could hardly talk, he was in tears. It was a cool moment.
Q: How much overlap is there with what he does to what Star [Lotulelei] does? How much does that really matter going forward?
Beane: Well, again, we’re trying to be very strong up front. We made that obvious with Star and Trent’s additions. This will be another piece that will be in there competing. I think it’ll shake itself out; we’re trying to have versatile pieces. I think his best suited spot would be the one, but I think he could move out there to three. He’ll have many opportunities. I think he wants that opportunity to go out there and rush it a little bit, but we’ll see what he offers once he gets here.
Q: Not saying it’s a must or there’s any real must but is offensive line, just reestablishing some of that depth one of the things that you’re looking at tomorrow?
Beane: We’re looking at a lot of spots. We’re just trying to find good football players, we honestly are. Again, if we get done in this draft and we still think, ‘man, we’re weak in a position, whatever’, there’s other avenues that we can fill that. Again, trying to avoid going for need, it probably wasn’t considered a need, we thought he was a good football player to have.
Q: Do you have your scouts put together a separate list of all of the ex-wrestlers?
Beane: In all honesty, I do ask that question for lineman. It is a leverage game. You see the leverage he plays with, the power he had with the bench press at the Combine. It is a positive to look at.
McDermott: I would just add, the thing that is interesting, the thing that we are finding which is really cool about these players, and Brandon alluded to this a little bit, these players are wanting to come to Buffalo. It is really a credit to the culture in our locker room. That has been established by the players we have currently on our roster. Then the city, what is going on in our city. They see when they come and visit, when we have an opportunity to have them visit, they see what is going on in our city and the energy around this place. That is a positive for not only what we are doing here, but in our community as well.
Q: Did you have Harrison in for a pre-draft visit?
Beane: We did not.
Q: Did these past two nights go the way you envisioned?
Beane: I have got to be honest, I did not expect to be able to get a quarterback and Tremaine. I thought we were going to have to give up the 22nd pick. Tremaine would have been in our conversation at 12 if we did not move up and we did not have a quarterback we liked. When he was there and he fell a little bit, we just felt it was such a good fit that we had to go up and get him.
Q: How important has it been to get younger and fortify the middle of your defense?
McDermott: That is important. Like I mentioned earlier, fortifying both lines. The game really starts up front. Philosophically for us on both sides of the ball. Down the middle in particular you want to be strong and powerful. In particular more than strong, so power is important. You saw some of our issues last year in the run game on defense, so that has been a major emphasis on defense this year as well. Some of that was just gap assignment rather than power and what-not. Even before adding Harrison, we felt as Brandon mentioned with Star (Lotulelei) and Kyle (Williams) and Adolphus (Washington) was mentioned earlier and Rickey (Hatley), we already had some good players in there. This is just another piece to add to that competition. There are different ways to build it. Some people believe in building through the middle, some believe in building through the edge on the perimeter. It was a good pick for us.
Q: How did you react to coming in this morning having made your first draft picks and trades?
Beane: I am excited. I am excited we had added those two players when we woke up. Obviously did not know about Harrison yet. To get them here, was great to talk to them and to talk to Josh and Tremaine. Again, two big guys, two young men who are growing and will fit our community. Again, wasn’t really looking back to yesterday. More just how today was going to unfold. That was my vision and I am already thinking of what we can do tomorrow with what is still on our board.
Q: Will Josh Allen be at all the workouts due to his college graduation?
Beane: Yes. Those guys will come in not this Thursday, but the following Thursday for our rookie camp for that Friday and Saturday. They will all be here.
Q: It is not that late graduation deal?
Beane: They changed the rule on that, so it is ok.