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2019 NFL Draft Press Conference Transcript: Buffalo Bills’ Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott discuss Day 2

The Bills made three picks on Day 2

The Buffalo Bills made three picks on Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft. In round 2, they traded up for Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford. In the third round they stayed put and selected FAU running back Devin Singletary before moving up and selecting Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox.

Here are the comments from general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott from their press conference recapping the day:

Q: Can you walk us through the thought behind drafting Cody Ford?

Beane: Starting with Cody [Ford], we had a very good grade on Cody. We even looked into late last night potentially getting at the end of the first. It was a little rich for us, we felt like we would be giving up too many assets to do that. We made some calls and fortunately he was there to make that move with Oakland and pick him up. He can play right tackle or guard for us. I would say position one for us right now would be right tackle, but we do like the versatility to go inside. He’s smart and physical and would be fine in there.

Q: Did you move up in the draft to select Ford because you knew who you wanted and wanted to make sure you got him?

Beane: A couple of things. One, he was standing out on our board as a guy we felt worthy. We put the time in and thought he fit what we were doing. And second of all, there was a run on tackles. That’s generally what happens, you see positions. As it was starting to get thin, we honestly thought when Carolina traded right in front of us, tackle was one of their needs as well. They went with a tackle, they just went with a different tackle. We felt fortunate to get Cody.

Q: How did you feel about the potential of Tampa selecting a tackle?

Beane: There’s never enough tackles in this league. You have team needs, but when there’s a tackle there. Honestly all of these picks, before we go through them all, they were the highest player on our board and we truly stuck to that. I know we went heavy [numbers] at running back getting [Devin] Singletary, but we followed the board.

Q: How do you balance having 14 offensive linemen currently on the roster?

McDermott: Competition is a good a thing. I know we both believe in building it up front. If you study the league over the years, as I’m sure you guys do, you’ve got to have it on both sides of the ball. It starts up front. When you look at not only Cody, but really the other picks today and yesterday with Ed [Oliver], smart, tough. There’s something to be said for those two qualities right there.

Q: Does Cody Ford ‘check the box’ in terms of being able to win at the line of scrimmage?

McDermott: He’s got to come in here and earn it, just like Ed [Oliver] does and all the rest of the draft picks. That’s how we do things. He is smart, he is tough and we’re anxious to get him in here and get him integrated into what we do and how we do things, just like the rest of the picks. When you look at the way he played, his play style was physical, but it wasn’t just physical, it was under control. He brought some leadership to that football team as well.

Q: What were you seeing from Dawson Knox despite the lack of production?

Beane: He’s a very good athlete. He tested well. [I] was able to see him live this year versus South Carolina. And warming up, you could just see. I didn’t feel like they used him to accentuate some of the things that he does well. He’s one of those guys, he is a combo guy. Some of the tight ends we think are truly just an F-flex or some are just a Y that you really don’t want to include in the passing game a lot. I do think that he is a dual threat. I think he’s got upside. I think that the biggest thing that he’s had is he’s had some durability things that have held him back. We think that we’ve got a good idea of how to handle that. He’ll come in here and he’ll compete with Tyler [Kroft] and Jason Croom and the other guys that we have.

Q: How does [Devin] Singletary’s addition impact the already crowded running backs room?

Beane: As I said earlier, we followed the board and he was sticking out. We felt like he was the best player on the board and you’ve got to follow that. We know we’ve got some age there too, so to add a young guy, we felt was a smart move not only for this year but for the future. Again, Sean said it, we believe in competition. LeSean McCoy is still here. Before you ask that question, he’s still the starter. We roll the ball out, there’s no questions about that. Devin, just like we said about Cody [Ford] and Ed [Oliver], he’ll come in here and compete. Wherever he slots when we get ready to play games is where it’ll end up being.

Q: You’ve remade this roster in such a big way. What’s your philosophy on how you’ve approached things up until this moment in terms of the amount of immediate impact you can expect from new additions?

Beane: To reiterate some of what I said after free agency, we thought our defense was playing up here and we thought our offense was down here and there’s a lot of reasons for that and a lot of it is at me, personnel wise. We made a concerted effort in free agency to add pieces, a lot at the o-line. We were not happy with our o-line play. It was inconsistent. It was good at times last year. There was an effort to fix a lot of that in free agency. We also wanted to add youth. Sean said it, we believe in winning up front. There were frustrating times with some of the games we didn’t win last year, I think it came down to losing the battle up front. I said if nothing else, this year we’re going to fix that.

Q: Will expectations immediately grow from this in terms of the team’s success?

Beane: That is a challenge. I can pick all these players, let’s just say they’re all great, grade-A players, it doesn’t mean, we still have to have a team. That’s where Sean and his staff [come in]. It’ll be a challenge for them. The challenge that it is, it’s not easy.

McDermott: I would start by saying that no one puts higher expectations on us than us. We think and we work to be the best that we can be every day. That’s really the mindset of our building. Expectations come in this game. Really where we are going into year three, we’re in year three, you asked Brandon about it, we’ve had to remake the roster. That takes time. Brandon’s done a good job. We’re still working on that and we still have more picks. My biggest challenge, and probably one of the bigger challenges around the league, is how you bring a team together, quite frankly, when you’ve added 17 free agents and now draft picks to that. There’s a chance that half of our team is new. That’s a little bit uncommon around the league, but that’s part of building it the right way also. There is change and you have to embrace it, evolve. If you don’t evolve then you’re not around very long. That’s part of the growth mindset here. The competition is healthy. To stay where we were, that’s not healthy. We’re here to win championships and we do it one day at a time and it takes time, but I like what we’ve done this offseason. We’re a couple months away from playing a game here so we’ve got a lot to do between now and then.

Q: What did your board tell you about the wide receiver position during the second round?

Beane: We had some guys, but they were not as high as Cody [Ford] in the second. I think you saw there was a run on the receivers. Our next pick was Devin [Singletary] and by then there was nothing available that we felt the value fit to what Devin could do for us.

Q: How much more do you expect from the running game with the additions to the offensive line?

Beane: Competition. We wanted to bring in [competition]. LeSean has obviously been here, he’s an established player in this league. Other than Josh [Allen], maybe now one of those most well-known players on our team. Frank [Gore] we know his history, his leadership, his toughs, a guy playing. And now we’ve added a little bit of youth. T.J. Yeldon we added who was drafted 36th overall four years ago. We think we’ve got a guy who’s in the middle of his career, kind of still ascending. And we’ve added Devin [Singletary]. We’ve got guys at competition. Honestly, as Sean [McDermott] said, we’re going to roll it out and we’re a couple of months away from real football. I don’t know the order—how a lot of these positions, whether it’s o-line, receiver, tight end, running back—I don’t know how it’s going to shake out, but in time we’ll figure that out.

Q: Was the underlying motivation to move up for Dawson Knox and Cody Ford or was there something else there?

Beane: We were looking at, there was [the] same thing, there was starting to be a run on tight ends and you’re kind of holding your breath and you start looking. Our next pick was 112, I believe, so we started going. He fit the value where we picked him. There’s enough teams that could still use tight ends and we just didn’t see any way that he would fall. The next one that we had ranked was starting to be significantly lower and we just felt that this was the time to jump. That was still another position that we wanted to address in this draft.

Q: You just couldn’t resist [trading up for Knox] could you? You had to do it?

Beane: I was honestly exhausted after the first [trade up] because we were trying so hard to get Cody [Ford]. We were patient with Devin [Singletary] and then there was the run on tight ends right after we picked Devin. It’s Murphy’s Law, we saw some running backs there we liked and we saw some tight ends that we liked; and it was like ‘ok, it looks like maybe there’s a little more depth still at tight end,’ so we go with Devin, and then the tight ends start going and you start pressing, going ‘alright, how long do we want to wait before we address it. And that felt like the right time to make the move.’

Q: You talked about what [Dawson] Knox brings to the table. To give up two fourth-round picks to make that move to get back into round three to get him, what justifies that move in your mind?

Beane: There’s two things, the value on the board, and secondly, we thought it was a position we did need. And again, let’s say he got picked and we’re at four now, I didn’t want to be reaching in a lower round to grab him. It made sense to me, for us to trade up there because we had that value on Dawson [Knox].

Q: Sean, as a head coach how comforting is it knowing that your general manager sees things pretty much exactly how you do, logistically and on the field?

McDermott: It’s important, the trust Brandon and I have for one another and his department and my department. It’s a little bit unique maybe around the NFL in terms of that there’s always a line there, but just the inherent trust that we have for each other and our different departments working together, that goes a long way in terms of building a cohesive football team. On a day-to-day basis, there’s a lot of speed in that and when you can trust and make a lot of progress in a short amount of time. We talk a lot. Communication is a big part of that as well. We spend a lot of time making sure we’re aligned and we see things in a similar fashion and when we don’t, that it’s okay to disagree and that we’re always learning and growing, so we don’t make the same mistake twice.

Q: Devin Singletary had over 700 rushing attempts in three years [in college]. What made you comfortable with knowing that’s a lot of carries for his position, especially with the way he runs, taking him in the third round?

Beane: Because he didn’t get tackled a lot. He had 66 touchdowns, I think. Out of all the guys I watched, I still have a note on this little Surface [tablet] where I write that this is the funnest guy I’ve watched all year. Even the guys I watched after him, I didn’t feel like I needed to erase it. The guy’s got some amazing vision, rare vision, lateral quickness, and his instincts, if this is ten [signals up], they’re up here [signals higher], and they’re very rare. Rare instincts, rare vision for the position. He’s a smaller guy—wouldn’t call him a home run hitter—but he can make guys miss in a phone booth.

Q: Even when he gets hit, it seems like [Singletary’s] contact balance, people move him over they don’t get him on the ground. Is that just because he’s built so low to the ground? Or is it that he just seems to have very good balance after the initial contact?

Beane: I was looking at his weight and when you get up on him, his lower is bigger than you would think when you see on tape, so I do think that helps and again he does have a lot of balance. I think Sean said it when we were watching him at some point, as a group, with the durability question that [reporter] Sal had, is that rarely do you see him take a lot of blows. Some of these pounders don’t really stick and move, they’re just moving the pile. This guy is not that player. I don’t want to be unfair to LeSean [McCoy] but he kind of plays like that, he makes a lot of guys miss in space, so we’ll call it a similar play-style to him.

Q: Obviously you’re not trying to unload picks, but was one of the goals; you had ten, maybe off-load a couple of those so you could get a couple in a higher round? Was that maybe a strategy you had going in, to use some of those lower ones to get a better player in a higher round?

Beane: Yeah, I mean picks to me, I always count them as currency. And it’s kind of where the state of your roster is and what you’ve done. We came in where we didn’t have a lot of positions that we felt we needed to address, so we said ‘let’s follow the board, set the board right, don’t skew it.’ And then when the board tells you that you need to move up in the Cody Ford sense and again in the Dawson Knox sense, take advantage of those extra picks that you have and try and get those players at either the value you have on the board, or maybe in Cody’s case you’ve got a player where you thought it was a really good value.

Q: This offseason you ripped the offensive line basically down to the studs. At the end of the day, isn’t this all about Josh Allen? I mean let’s face it; you’ve got to protect that guy, right? In the simplest form it’s about Josh, correct?

Beane: Yes, it’s a quarterback league. It truly is. That was one of the first things that Sean and I talked about when we got here, we needed to find a franchise quarterback. We drafted Josh last year and we saw some of his strengths, but some of the things we didn’t feel, and we, I’m putting it on me, didn’t do a good enough job with personnel around him to help him be the best version of himself on the field. So there has been a conscious effort to shore up the o-line and shore up the offense to help him be more successful.

Q: Sean, I wanted to ask you, I thought it was interesting when you talked about the challenge of integrating so many new players. It’s a nice problem to have when you have so much talent in the organization, but more specifically maybe what your approach might be to get everyone up to speed as quickly as possible and what the best way to do that is?

McDermott: Yeah, there’s a couple different objectives that we talk about since the start of what we call phase one in the offseason and one of them is coming together as a football team, and how we do that, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. Part of it is hanging out, just simply hanging out with one another and hanging out here [at the stadium]. That’s one additional facet of the new weight room, guys want to hang around here a little bit longer and there are added benefits to that just spending time together and getting to know one another. You know some of the unique things that we’ve done the last two years that we’re going to continue to do of guys sharing their personal story, their journeys to the NFL and who they play for and why they play the game. I think that’s a part of what makes this place unique in what we do and how we do things. I think you’ll find over the course of time that players, and we experienced this in the spring in free agency, players are finding out about that. They’re finding out not only about our facility now but also how we’re doing things here and the culture we’re building. And then a credit to Brandon and his staff for the types of people we’re bringing into the building. That makes it a little bit easier in that regard where guys like hanging out with one another and it’s not cliquey in some ways like some teams tend to be. That chemistry that we’re trying to build is so important to what we’re trying to do. I’d say in addition to learning the schemes and getting bigger, stronger and faster this time of year, that’s a big part of what we set out to do day one when the players came back.