Buffalo’s top personnel man was in a bind going into the 2018 NFL Draft. He knew that the Bills needed a quarterback, and he knew that he would need a top-ten selection in order to pick the one he wanted. Even though Buffalo had two selections in the first round, neither of them were particularly high. The Bills had two picks, 21st and 22nd overall, but they needed to make a series of moves in order to obtain that top-ten choice, eventually moving from 21 to 12 before settling at 7 overall to select Josh Allen.
This season, however, is different. Beane has the ninth pick overall, yet he feels that he does not have to make a choice based solely on need. He can instead focus his energies on picking the best football player available at that spot, regardless of position.
“I’m always going to be emphatic about that,” Beane said. “We’re at nine and we’re going to take the best player, offense or defense. We’ll continue to do that rounds two, three, and beyond.”
Of course, the Bills have multiple needs this season, needing help along the offensive line, at wide receiver, and at running back, while also needing to find depth players along the defensive front-seven. The prospect of needing to fill multiple needs does not seem to faze Beane at all, however.
“It’s better,” he said. Last year we were sitting here at 21 and 22, and you’re going, ‘man there are some good guys out there, but how do you get up in the top ten and how far do you have to go.’ It’s weird—this year we’re in the top ten and we don’t need to be. It’s nice to be able to focus a little bit more of our energy on all the positions.”
That tidbit about being in the top ten, but not necessarily needing to be, is sure to fuel speculation that Beane will seek a trading partner in an attempt to acquire more draft capital. Buffalo has not picked at its original spot in either first round since Sean McDermott was hired as head coach and Beane as general manager. In 2017, the Bills traded down from tenth overall, acquiring three draft choices from the Kansas City Chiefs (27 and 91 overall in 2017; 21 overall in 2018). In 2018, the Bills traded up three times—once with the Cincinnati Bengals, then again with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to draft Allen, and then a third time to move up to select linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
Beane knows that he has a premium draft choice, and he also knows that he has multiple options. While nothing is set in stone this early in the draft process, one thing is clear: Beane will leave no stone unturned, and he is not afraid to make a move. If a player is available at 9 overall who the Bills really like, they’ll take him. If a team offers a trade that they really like, they’ll add more draft capital. Either way, the Bills are poised to make big strides through this year’s draft.
Stay tuned, everybody.