Here are the unfiltered comments from Buffalo Bills head coach Brandon Beane and general manager Sean McDermott following the selection of Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Opening statement from head coach Sean McDermott:
So before we get started I just wanted to take a minute, Brandon [Beane] and I together, on behalf of the organization to offer a little bit of perspective. I know tonight is a big night for the organization, for our fans, just to send our support, prayers on behalf of the entire organization to Pancho Billa in his battle right now. Letting him know that we’re there with him in spirit even though we can’t be there physically with him right now. Just wanted to start with that, and from there, we’ll turn it over to you guys.
Q: Did you find exactly what you hoped for in drafting Ed Oliver?
Beane: Yeah, definitely did. You stack your board. You’re also doing odds and ends as far as trying to figure out how the board’s going to fall. Yeah, we liked where we were at nine. You don’t truly know how it’s going to fall, there’s a lot of smoke about how many quarterbacks are going to go or not going to go. We felt if a couple of quarterbacks went, we were hoping for three, just to make it safe, that we’d get a player that we felt was definitely worthy of nine and that’s what we think we did.
Q: What about Oliver stands out?
Beane: Ed is, first of all, he’s a competitor. He’s tough. He plays from the snap to the echo of the whistle. He fits Buffalo, how we do things. They used him in Houston a little different than how we’ll use him. He played a lot the zero right over the nose. For us, I think Sean will slide him in as a three-tech in our defense, which is a very important piece for what we’re doing. You guys know we lost Kyle [Williams], and we were not able to answer that in free agency. I think this fell pretty good for us.
Q: How did you feel when Oliver was still available at nine and the prospect of using him in the Bills defense?
McDermott: As Brandon mentioned, it’s a key part of our defense. No different in where we came from and how we built that defense and the way we’re building our defense now. I’ll say this, no one is ever going to replace Kyle Williams, I just wanted to manage expectations, number one, with that. Ed Oliver is going to come in and, number one, earn everything that he gets. That’s how we do things here, you guys know that. No different in this case. He’s a good player that plays hard, brings his lunch pail, and he’s a guy that fits the way we play on the field. We were obviously excited. You never know how it’s going to fall, and sitting at nine we felt like we were at a pretty good spot where we could get a good player one way or the other. We feel good about the pick. I’ll give credit where credit is due to Brandon and his staff and the due diligence that they put into the situation.
Q: On the versatility of Oliver’s skill set:
McDermott: Brandon alluded to the fact that he was used a little bit differently in college that probably how we’ll use him here in our system. He was more lateral, I would say, to be simple about it, in college. Here we play a penetrating, attack-style defense, playing really on the other side of the line of scrimmage as opposed to staying along the line of scrimmage or moving latterly. We’re a penetration, attack-style defense and we’ll use him in that area, in that regard. The thing about Ed that stands out first and foremost is how quick he is at the line of scrimmage. They stunted him a lot at Houston. We’re excited to see him in our system and integrate him into what we do and integrate him into the guys we already have in that room.
Q: Did you focusing on signing offensive players during free agency because you knew there would be defensive talent available at the draft?
Beane: We did know what the d-tackles, there was a lot of pass rushers, whether it was d-ends or d-tackles, so those were things. You can never have enough pass rushers. We did know this was a hole. Three-techs that are pass rushers rarely get to free agency. A lot of times you have to fill that in the draft. We felt there would be opportunities, you never know how it’s going to fall. There were other good players on offense too that were around. This was just a pick we felt fit a need as well.
Q: Why do you feel a three-tech is worthy of being drafted with the ninth overall pick given him previously saying that interior pressure is critical?
McDermott: When you look at it, in the comment I made back at the owners meeting, I stand by. I believe in that philosophically. If you study the game, it’s a lot easier at times, I don’t want to say a lot, it’s easier at times to chip a defensive end, take away a defensive end, an edge rusher, as opposed to an inside rusher. A little bit more of a challenge offensively, systematically to take away an inside rusher that can penetrate and what not. He did it in college, he’s got to do it at our level. That said, just philosophically it’s a critical piece for us in terms of that position and being able to pressure the quarterback inside out.
Q: Did you consider moving up to the third spot in the draft and did you have options to move up or down when he was on the clock?
Beane: As we always do, there was a lot of exploring up in front of us. Some of it you’re also feeling out, trying to figure out what people are going to do. That report was played up much higher than it was. There was never any exchange of compensation or anything like that. To me, you’re getting serious on a trade if you start talking parameters of what it’s going to take to move up or move back. I realized really this week that nine was going to be a very valuable spot. Denver could’ve potentially been in the market for a quarterback. I think right after we picked, Pittsburgh traded up. There was a lot of action either way that you could’ve done. We were set that if there was a guy there that we felt worthy of the pick that we were going to take that and not chance losing.
Q: Where you confident that from a football character standpoint, being a team guy, that [Oliver] fits what you want? There was the coat incident, but aside from that, what do you think about how he fits?
Beane: I think he definitely does. Listen, for all college kids there are probably one or two things all of us would like to do different and you learn along the way. But deep down he was raised well, he’s a good kid, and we spent a lot of time. Sean and I were actually at his pro day. Leslie Frazier, Bill Teerlinck, Terrance Gray went down there and spent some more time with him, as we do with a lot of these guys. We do our due diligence. Obviously the film is what it is but, you know how much we care a lot about who the people are and we checked that box before we gave him that status on our board.
Q: Several times over the last couple years you’ve talked extensively about building the defense up the middle. Obviously you got a few safeties for the last couple of years and you add Tremaine [Edmunds] last year. Ed Oliver, is he what you would consider the final piece to building the defense up the middle?
McDermott: I don’t know if he’s the final piece, he’s certainly a piece. Obviously with the answers we’ve given so far you know the importance of that position and how integral it is to stopping the run and also being able to pressure the quarterback as I mentioned, inside-out up front. Being able to rush four as opposed to having to pressure, that gives defensive coordinators a lot of flexibility if you will. So he’s a piece, but again he’s going to have to come in and earn it. But we’re anxious to get him in here and learn the defense, learn how we do things here and then just take it one rep at a time. I think as you saw in some of the research y’all have done, he’s an energetic young man with a bright smile and I think he’ll bring a lot of juice early on to us, a lot of energy.
Q: Had Kyle not retired, would Ed Oliver be a fit at this point if Kyle had elected to come back?
Beane: Yes. I told you we’re going to take good football players. You can never have enough pass rushers, whether it’s exterior or on the interior. Again, three-tech is an important piece to Sean’s defense, so losing Kyle made it a bigger need. But, if Kyle was here, we would’ve still taken Ed Oliver.
Q: What was it like for you being at his pro day and getting a chance to see him up close and now have him fall to you at nine?
McDermott: It’s unusual sometimes that that works out the way it did. I didn’t go to a lot of pro days this year, but it is unusual that, in particular the one we were at together, that it was Ed Oliver at the end of the day. I mean you could feel him, that presence, that energy, you could feel it, and when he worked out you could feel it also. The closer you got, the more you felt the quickness, the more you felt the power, the more you felt the juice; and really more than anything the competitive nature of this young man. He wants it and that hunger is a critical piece that we look for.
Q: Explain that a little bit more, Sean, if you could. How do you feel it when you’re there and when you’re watching that player? What is that sensation when you say you ‘feel it’?
McDermott: It’s kind of like when you drive down the interstate  there and you get close to the General Mills plant and you can smell the Cheerios. You can feel it. You can smell it. When you’re around a good football player, a guy that wants it, it’s no different in your line of work. When you’re around people that want it and are passionate about what they do, you can smell that, you can feel it.
Q: Brandon, I know you do a lot of scenarios. You go through mocks drafts and things like that. Were there a lot of them where you had Ed Oliver falling down to number nine to you guys?
Beane: You know, there were some where he was gone early. I think the earliest spot in our mocks he went was three to the Jets a couple times. You know we did different scenarios. One we had three quarterbacks going before us and he did fall to us. The two-quarterback one I think he did [fall to nine], but when it was one quarterback I don’t think he ever fell. We did about eight mocks and just tried to get different scenarios. We knew it was going to be close. The other part you worry about is you try to figure out what teams are really dying to get. We were worried with Detroit on the clock, even if he wasn’t necessarily a perfect fit for them, somebody trading up and getting him. We stayed patient and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. It worked this time. As Sean said, we’re excited; but just like we said with Josh [Allen] and Tremaine last year, being a first-round pick on our team doesn’t guarantee you anything. Undrafted guys played a lot last year and I’m sure we’ll have an undrafted guy or two compete. It’ll be the same for Ed, nothing will be given to him.
Q: Speaking of staying patient, are you guys done for the evening?
Beane: Never say never. You guys know me.
Q: To have [Oliver] fall to you and to get this player and fit with the defense the way it is, how positive of a scenario is this for you as you project forward now?
Beane: As we talked about earlier, there are scenarios where you would look to where you have to go up to get this true three-tech and it’s a position that generally like all these pass-rushers, they go fast. We knew it was going to be close. It worked out, we thought pretty well for us. We thought the board fell. Once Dave Gettleman and the Giants took the second quarterback, things started to take shape on our board that we’re going to get a player that’s that high on our board.
Q: These past couple of years you’ve drafted three defensive players in the first round, aside from Josh Allen. Is there any preference to drafting a defensive player at the top of the draft opposed to an offensive player because the defensive player may be able to contribute right away easier than an offensive player?
Beane: No, not really. I think you truly have to set your board to their skill set and how you think they’ll fit what you do. There were offensive players, one went right before us, still on our board that deserve to be and will be drafted in the first round. We’ll continue to do that. We’re at 40 the next pick and if it’s defense, it’s defense and if it’s offense, it’s offense, and we’re going to stick with that.