During this time of year, football fans want nothing more than to crack the code for who their favorite team will draft. Trend analysis is one way to attempt to get inside the head of a football front office. We’ve already broken down the time allocated per position in an attempt to identify where the Buffalo Bills will focus their draft resources. For a follow up, let’s look to see if the Bills have a history of drafting specific players with whom they’ve met.
We have (almost) two years of the current front office to work with, so we’ll take a look at both. As a disclaimer, current general manager Brandon Beane wasn’t technically with the team for the 2017 draft, though the rumor mill suggested he was in Sean McDermott’s ear at the time.
This is short and sweet. While the Buffalo Bills had scouts at a lot of pro days where they had eyes on many of these players, they didn’t meet with the vast majority of players they drafted. The exception: Nathan Peterman. Of course they met with Nathan Peterman.
With the distrust expressed toward Doug Whaley and his staff (what with the “firing them all” and everything) this isn’t exactly surprising. Unfortunately, it’s hard to chalk up 2017 as much more than an incomplete grade as a result. Let’s check in on 2018.
And again we only have one player drafted that the team met with beforehand. And, it was the quarterback again, of course. With Brandon Beane and his team in place, there’s no reason to give this year an incomplete grade.
There are, however, some things to consider. The Bills were almost singularly focused on quarterback in this draft with 15 visits spread across ten different players. While Josh Allen gives us a rare “yes” in the chart above, any of the top quarterback prospects would have done the same.
Additionally, the chaos of the draft is also a probable factor. With teams having little certainty on player availability shortly after the draft starts it would be incredibly difficult to target mid- to late-round prospects for visits.
Ultimately, there’s not a lot of predictive validity based on the two years of the Sean McDermott era when it comes to player visits translating to being drafted by Buffalo. Both years have been a bit odd. One as a result of a lack of trust in the scouts that did the work and the other due to the hyper focused approach toward quarterbacks.
At pick nine, there’s a good chance a pre-draft visitor will be drafted by the Bills this year, but this isn’t a prediction based on prior drafts. Instead, it’s based on the volume of possible first-round talents the Bills have met with. A modest estimate would put at least ten first-round players face-to-face with Buffalo at some point in the pre-draft process. Even with some wheeling and dealing to move around the board, those are pretty good odds.
As we enter what could be argued to be the first “typical” draft for the current Buffalo Bills’ front office, it will be interesting to see if any of their pre-draft activities can help predict draft-day outcomes.