Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane lost a lot of sleep in the weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL draft. He spent countless nights going through an infinite number of scenarios that would eventually lead to Buffalo selecting its future franchise quarterback. However, the scenario that ultimately panned out could not have been envisioned even with the copious amount of time spent talking to other GMs and developing a draft strategy.
Beane focused on moving to the 5th spot on draft day
Days after the Bills dealt OT Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals to move up to the twelfth spot, the New York Jets traded with the Indianapolis Colts to ascend to the third position, which almost guaranteed they’d be taking a quarterback. Given what New York sacrificed to move a mere three spots, Beane knew he’d have to trade away the farm to enter the top 5; however, he only considered deals with the New York Giants to trade for the second spot pre-draft.
“(I) had conversations with everybody,” Beane told The Buffalo News. “(Picks) two, four and five were the main people that I talked to before the draft, just feeling them out. You know, the only move I would have made before the draft is to two, because I had to see how it unfolded.”
Beane said talks with Cleveland Browns’ GM John Dorsey regarding the fourth overall pick were the most frequent of any, but they couldn’t come to terms on a fair deal. With the first four spots out of the question, he then turned his focus to Denver’s pick at number five.
According to Beane, he had several discussions with Denver Broncos’ GM John Elway on draft day, which led to the solidification of a contingent deal. The Bills were allegedly going to trade both of this year’s first rounders and their first pick of the 2nd round (53 overall) in exchange for the 5th overall pick and a 3rd round pick. All of this was contingent upon “Denver’s guy” not being there at number five. DE Bradley Chubb of NC State, it turns out, was the “guy” Denver was looking to draft.
Cleveland’s 2nd pick led the Bills to Josh Allen
Cleveland surprisingly passed on Chubb at 4 and ended up taking CB Denzel Ward out of Ohio State, which nullified the deal Buffalo had in place with Denver. With his options limited, Beane knew he had to make a move quickly.
“I had already been told by Indianapolis that they’re not moving. Tampa had said they really liked a guy, and they didn’t think they were going to move. Chicago had told us they’re probably not moving. Now we’re down to San Francisco, then Oakland. I thought at 7, I’m getting in that gray zone. Miami can get there, Arizona now can get there. I don’t want to lose him here.”
At this point, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen manned the phones and initiated talks with Tampa Bay, who reportedly wanted both of Buffalo’s firsts for their 7th, but that price was too steep for Beane. His attention then switched to San Francisco, who had the 9th pick. 49ers GM John Lynch said they had a guy in mind and that it’d need to be a sweet deal for them to trade out of their spot.
Seconds after hanging up with San Francisco, and with Tampa Bay on the clock, Beane received a call from Bucs GM Jason Licht, who offered their 7th pick in exchange for Buffalo’s first choice in round 1 (12th overall) and two second rounders. Beane finalized the transaction after convincing Licht to throw in their last pick of the draft. The Bills, of course, took Wyoming’s Josh Allen with Tampa’s pick.
Beane’s previous experiences in the draft room taught him to expect the unexpected. He referenced last year’s draft, saying nobody saw the Kansas City trade coming, which gave Buffalo an extra first round pick this year.
“You don’t know who’s out there laying in the weeds that’s going to make a big jump. You’ve got to be wary of that, because if they jump you, you lose out.”
Did the Bills overpay for Allen? Maybe. But then again, nobody will be talking about this if Allen eventually pans out. Only time will tell if Beane’s decisions were of the ingenious or obtuse nature.