Since head coach Sean McDermott took the head-coaching reins of the Buffalo Bills, there has been a clear trend concerning where the team has found fresh talent. McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have put an emphasis on not just drafting seniors out of college, but seniors who have played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
The Senior Bowl is meant to showcase seniors and fourth-year juniors in front of scouts, coaches, and NFL team executives. Going into his third year coaching the Bills, McDermott has commanded a locker room of players who prioritize maturity, discipline, and effort on the field. Senior Bowl participants share these traits, so it isn’t a shock that the team looks to Mobile, AL for rookies to fit the mold.
Under McDermott, the Bills have had 14 draft selections. Of those picks, 12 were seniors with nine having played in the Senior Bowl (Tremaine Edmunds and Ray-Ray McCloud III being the only non-seniors). Here is the list of the last two years worth of Senior Bowl draftees:
2017 Senior Bowl
- Nathan Peterman, QB - Pittsburgh
- Zay Jones, WR - East Carolina
- Dion Dawkins, OG - Temple
- Tre’Davious White, CB - LSU
2018 Senior Bowl
- Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming
- Wyatt Teller, OG - Virginia Tech
- Harrison Phillips, DT - Stanford
- Taron Johnson, CB - Weber State
- Siran Neal, CB - Jacksonville State
The past two years, although a small sample size, has produced significant success for the Bills’ roster. Outside of Nathan Peterman’s short Buffalo tenure, this trend has produced multiple proven starters in potential franchise quarterback Josh Allen, 2018’s top Bills receiver in Zay Jones, 2017 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year runner up Tre’Davious White, and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
This track record suggests the Bills will look to Senior Bowl participants again for this year’s upcoming draft, starting on April 25th. Draft options under that criteria include:
- Andre Dillard, OT - Washington State
- Erik McCoy, C - Texas A&M
- Montez Sweat, DE - Mississippi State
- Jaylon Ferguson, DE - Louisiana Tech
- Trevon Wesco, TE - West Virginia
- Deebo Samuel, WR - South Carolina
- David Sills V, WR - West Virginia
Noticeably absent from this list are rumored options for the Bills at the ninth overall pick. Multiple mock drafts have the Bills taking either former Michigan DE Rashan Gary, former Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson, or former Houston DT Ed Oliver. Picking a non-senior in the first round is not abnormal for Buffalo after the team drafted Tremaine Edmunds in the first round last year under McDermott and Beane.