With both the 2017 and 2018 NFL Draft now under their belt, some distinct trends are emerging regarding the type of prospects the new Buffalo Bills regime looks for. Last year, the trends seemed to center around college seniors from the ACC. Have those continued?
In terms of college football conference preference, during the Buddy Nix/Doug Whaley era the team preferred battle-tested prospects from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Now though? Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott are all about the Athletic Coastal Conference (ACC). Six of the fourteen players drafted in the past two drafts played their college ball in the ACC, a group that includes Matt Milano, Nathan Peterman, Tremaine Edmunds, Wyatt Teller, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Austin Proehl. This is understandable as the conference, although somewhat top-heavy, has housed a plethora of power-house teams recently including Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech, who were all ranked in the Top 25.
The Bills brain trust hasn’t been afraid to draft prospects from smaller schools. After the ACC, the next most popular conferences are the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and the Mountain West, both of which are outside of the traditional “Power Five” conferences. In fact, six of the fourteen drafted players all came from outside of the “Power Five.” This includes recent seventh overall pick Josh Allen (Wyoming), as well as Zay Jones (Eastern Carolina), Dion Dawkins (Temple), Tanner Vallejo (Boise State), Taron Johnson (Weber State) and Siran Neal (Jacksonville State).
Regarding positional preferences, the team has been remarkably consistent. Out of the fourteen picks, seven have been defensive players and seven have been offensive prospects. The average draft position for offense has been pick 127, while the average draft position for a defender has been somewhat close at 110. Improving the wide receiver and linebacking corps has clearly been a priority, as six out for the fourteen draft picks have been wideouts or linebackers.