Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane met with the media from the 2019 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He had a lot to say about the NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff and free agents, and a lot more.
Here’s the video:
We’re live with General Manager Brandon Beane from Indianapolis at the 2019 NFL Combine.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) February 28, 2019
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Here’s the transcript:
On Dennis Lock, new Bills’ director of football research and strategy:
You know, he had a role in Miami where he was very tied into the coaching staff and what they were doing, but also some personnel stuff. So this time of year, he’ll be more personnel-driven, bringing us some analytical stuff and models and things like that and just basically putting a lot of data together that we do with grades and testing numbers and things like that. Just another checks and balances. And then in season, he’ll work less with personnel and more with the coaches in the game-planning process. We’ll look at game management, things like that, so he’ll touch a lot of different areas along with [new director of analytics and application development] Luis [Guilamo], so we just look at it as adding another piece and try and grow what we’ve already started in the analytics.
On re-signing defensive tackle Jordan Philips:
We’ve had a good conversation with Jordan at the end of the year and talked to his representatives a couple times. They’re here. We have not met with them yet, but definitely would be interested in bringing Jordan back. And like the energy that he brought our team midseason when we acquired him.
On new quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey:
You know, I’ve been around Ken for a number of years. He actually started in Carolina kind of in a personnel role and I thought he was going to go that way and was doing a heck of a job, but then he became the quarterback coach. Rob Chudzinski left, Mike Shula was promoted to coordinator. And just Ken’s experience, I know he hung around the league, not only because of his accolades at [the University of] Miami and things like that, but he was a super smart guy. And I know coaches on the staff that he played on talked about, ‘This guy is like another coach, he’s a future wannabe.’ And getting to know Ken, he was a big part of helping Cam grow and mature. He got his hands on him early and I think Cam would be the first to tell you he was a big part of his success and helped him. Cam had the MVP season in 2015. And Ken’s a smart guy. It’s another chance for him to be around a young guy and obviously there’s some similarities to the frame and the athleticism that Cam and Josh have. So I think he’ll work with Josh and and he’ll be a good influence as we try and grow him as a young quarterback in this league.
On the difference between this year’s Combine, with a QB in place, and last year, when the Bills were searching for a QB:
Yeah, I sleep a little bit better than I was last year at this time. But it’s nice to know that we found a guy that we believe in and we’ve got to do the right thing and build around him and add pieces obviously on offense. We were better on defense last year than we were on offense, so we’ll try to continue to build that. But it’ll be much better even after the draft when the players get back. You know, we had a three-quarterback battle last year, which is not ideal. So for Josh to be able to line up with the ones as soon as he gets here in mid-April will just help set the tone for our offense. He missed out on some reps that we would have liked to have gotten him had we known he would end up being the one as quick as he was. But it played out the way it is and obviously that’ll help us this year.
On if there’s such a thing as a No. 1 receiver and whether the Bills need one:
I’m not one that subscribes to a “number one receiver.” Receiver’s a position that comes in all sorts of sizes. You’ve got the guys that are 6’5”, 6’6”, and out-jumping people and going over the top. And then you’ve got some 5’7”, 5’8” guys that are making plays. Even the Super Bowl champions, they’ve won with those types of guys. So there’s a lot of different sizes, flavors, veterans, young guys, speed, size. We’re just looking for good football players, good receivers that can make plays and that Josh can count on when he throws them the ball, they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be and they’re going to make the plays.
On the greatest value of the Combine:
For us? Obviously, the medical is still super important. You know, a lot of these guys, things will pop up that you don’t know about that they’ve been dealing with. You’re not able to really get much medical stuff on these these young men in college. Then, the second thing is meeting these guys. We have the 60 formal interviews. There’s the train station, where we put coaches and scouts over there, and we’re just trying to get around and meet as many of these young men as we can and get to know who they are. Culture, as you guys all know, is very important for Sean [McDermott, Buffalo’s head coach] and I and what we’re trying to build. So the film is one thing, but who’s the person? What, intrinsically, motivates them? What is their smarts? What’s their football acumen? What inspires them? All those things that we can’t learn from the film.
On scouting players that aren’t invited to the Combine:
Yeah, that’s hard. I’m one that would love for even more players to be here because there are guys every year that aren’t invited to the Combine. I know the the young man from from Denver last year, the running back [Phillip Lindsay], had a really good year and he was not invited here. So, believe me, it’s probably at its max from the number of people, but from my seat, I’d love to get my hands on as many people as you can just to get to know them and get around them and give them that opportunity to show what they can do. And here’s been some controversy about the guys that were disallowed for reasons off the field. At least they were able to come to a compromise to get some of them here for medical and for us to interview them, which was good.
On comparisons for Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf:
Man, he’s a big, good looking young man. I don’t want to put a label on him like that. But he had a heck of a career and there’s guys that come to mind, but I don’t really want to put that label on him. I’d rather not.
On evaluating the tight end position:
Yeah, I mean, first thing is we paid attention to free agency, the guys that will be available there. And same thing as in the draft. There’s some guys that are some really good blockers but maybe they’re not as good as receivers. There’s some guys that you really don’t want to block [on the line] in a six-tech but they’re great in the passing game. So similar to receivers, there’s different flavors at tight end and we’ve done our homework there. Free agency will be first, but the draft, there’s some depth at tight end. From my point of view, and same as free agency, there’s some guys that are really good athletes that maybe we need to improve their blocking. Or maybe they weren’t asked to block, so we’ve got to do some more research and maybe they can once they’re taught, but there will be a growth opportunity for them if given the opportunity, whatever team they’re on.
On transitioning receivers from college spread offenses to the NFL:
You know, some of these programs now are just signaling to the receivers or maybe even an individual receiver and that’s one of the things that we try to do in the formal [interviews] is we watch a little tape and we try and find out what they know. And is it do they not know it because they can’t learn it or is it do they not know it because they were not taught it? And with the 20-hour rule or whatever it is in the NCAA, a lot of these coaches have gone to that, where they’ve got three to four different guys that are signaling to, one to the receivers, one of the backs, one of the line, and so you wish you had the these guys [receiving] more development time. I mean, that’s part of the process with receivers and, again, tight ends. Some of those guys come in the same thing, the ones that are flexed out and not not in line with their hand in the dirt.
On what position groups, besides tight end, have good depth:
I think defensive front. I think there’s definitely some depth there, it looks like, early on. I think there’s a lot of receivers, too, that, again, a lot of different shapes and sizes, but it seems like it’s a pretty good group, a pretty good draft class all around. I don’t think there’s a position that’s just, wow, thin anything like that.
On Robert Foster’s emergence as an undrafted free agent last season:
You know, Robert was a great story. Obviously, we had a little inside connection with [offensive coordinator] Brian Daboll and him being at Alabama (as Foster’s offensive coordinator in 2017]. And what a great deal. We released him early in the year when he wasn’t effective and he wasn’t able to make plays. He was making plays in practice, but it was not translating and there were some things that he needed to clean up technically that were causing some of the errors and the drive that he showed. He didn’t even leave town on the bye week because he was so focused on earning that opportunity and we brought him back up and the very first play of the first game, against the [New York] Jets, he makes a long one. And from there he just took off and we got Josh back and those two really formed a nice partnership. I’ve seen Robert in town a decent amount and I know he’s from the south and it’s cold in Buffalo, but I’ve seen him up there a lot so I like where his arrow is and he’s really embraced the opportunity and I look forward to seeing where he goes in his second season.
On signing offensive lineman Spencer Long:
Obviously, you know we were trying to make some moves on our o-line and Spencer was released by the Jets. We watched Spencer last year in the free agent market and the Jets bid for him and got him. But he’s a guy that has a lot of starts, has experience. He can play multiple spots, center and guard, and so we just look at him as added competition to what we’re doing. We’re not slating him in at one spot. We’ll continue to add pieces and he’ll compete, just like the rest of the crew, and and we’ll see how it shakes out.
On replacing multiple starters on the offensive line:
Yeah, I mean we’ve got some guys that are free agents that we could bring back, but you’re right: if all of them left, we could have two to three holes. And, again, we’ve done our homework. We’ll see what happens in free agency. We’ll try and and make sure we add a couple of those back if it’s not those same guys, other guys that are coming from other teams. And then the draft. We’re focused on those guys. I think there is depth on the line as well and I think we’ll be able to find some value.
On the need at defensive tackle and where Harrison Phillips factors in:
Harrison will compete. He did a good job year one. He’ll compete to definitely start. I can’t say he’ll win it, but Harrison did a great job of bringing in depth to us last year. He wasn’t asked to start. Obviously, with Kyle [Williams] gone, not only did we lose a good player, but we lost a leader so we’ll definitely look to add players along the front. We believe in the pass rush and if there’s a guy in free agency or the draft that we think can help will will definitely try and pounce on him.
On the running back depth behind LeSean McCoy:
Yeah, I mean we’ve got Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy and we had Taiwan [Jones] last year. We’ll see what happens, but that’s another position that maybe there’s competition out there in free agency or the draft but if not, we feel that those top two guys are guys that have started and played. Chris has started and been a thousand-yard rusher before and I thought when Shady missed a few games, I thought Chris came in and did a nice job. They’re two different style runners. LeSean’s more east-west and he’s going straight, hundred miles an hour, whether he runs into you or you get out of the way. Again, we’re trying to add competition everywhere. We’re not shying away from running back either, if the right opportunity’s there.
On if the success of late round running backs like Denver Broncos back Phillip Lindsay :
That was a great story of what Lindsay did this year. Every year there’s guys, but it’s not just at running back, either. We just talked about Robert Foster, what he did for us. Guys fall through the cracks for various reasons at various positions. I can’t say it’s just running back. Obviously, you’d love to hit on a guy. Those sixth-, seventh-rounders, not as many of them pan out, so any of them that you can find that have at least that one trait that will show up on Sundays and keep them on a roster, you’d love to hit on them. That’s a running back, a receiver, wherever.
On if the Bills looked ahead to this year’s QB group when they selected Josh Allen last year:
We didn’t really focus as much on this year. We kind of were in a transition. Sean and I just got here and we felt that the franchise quarterback was not on our roster at the time. And so we started making moves, traded a few players to acquire more picks. And we made it hard on ourselves. Sean and his staff did a great job and got us in the playoffs that year. But fortunately, we were able to get high enough to get Josh. I didn’t focus a lot on this draft. It was more we knew there was some guys, with [Sam] Darnold and Baker [Mayfield] and [Josh Allen] and Lamar [Jackson] and [Josh] Rosen. We knew there were some guys to focus on and we thought it was the best opportunity, if we could at least get in the top 10, we’d be able to get a guy that we felt could be a guy for us long term.
On drafting quarterbacks:
Well, it’s a quarterback league. It’s a premium position, so if you don’t have a franchise quarterback, your team is going to do this [mimes repeatedly moving up and down]. It’s hard to have sustained success if you don’t have a true franchise guy. If you look at the teams that are in the playoffs currently, every year, those names don’t change. Nine times out of 10, they’ve got a good quarterback. So we thought that was the right chance to get a guy for the long term.