The Buffalo Bills selected eight players in the 2019 NFL Draft, including four on Day 3. After the Bills picked LB Vosean Joseph, S Jaquan Johnson, DE Darryl Johnson, and TE Tommy Sweeney, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott met with the media at One Bills Drive. The media was also able to sneak in some UDFA questions.
Q: Can you confirm that Tyree Jackson has agreed to sign with the Bills?
Beane: We’re still working on it. It’s not finalized, but we do have an agreement in place. Get him in here, have to pass a physical and all that stuff. But yes, we’re excited to have Tyree if it all works out.
Q: What stood out about Tyree Jackson in your analysis of him?
Beane: Well the first thing you look at is the size. I truly thought he would be drafted. He was on our draft board to be drafted. I’m surprised. You saw his name still sitting there late in the seventh, and you start going, “Man, if this kid doesn’t get drafted, we’re going to have to go after him.” And we did. He’s got a strong arm and he’s got some mobility. I think he’s shown improvement and played at the Senior Bowl, it wasn’t too big for him. I think he’s still an ascending player. I know he’s worked on some mechanics with Jordan Palmer. I talked to Jordan for a while here at his pro day. It was just asking him some of the things he was working with him on, I don’t want to go into all of it. He thought he was heading in the right direction. [Our quarterback] Josh [Allen] has been around him out there. I asked Josh about him when I saw him. Really likes him, I think Josh even let him stay at his house for a little bit of time when he was here. It will be a natural fit. It’s exciting for Sean and I. We really love the UB program and what they’re doing. It’s cool even though we didn’t draft one to be able to bring him here.
Q: Is not drafting a wide receiver an indication that you’re comfortable with who you have here?
Beane: We like what we have, but we had guys in place on the board that we thought would’ve really added some different elements. There was some size guys, some speed guys, some inside, some outside. Again, we just follow the board. We set the board up and follow it and just try and draft good football players. There were some times there were some receivers there, just like there were other positions, you’re going, “God I like that guy, I think he can help us.” But I just didn’t want to reach. We truly, Derek [Boyko’s] in there, he sits there and watches, we follow the board. It just didn’t work out to take a receiver.
Q: Where do you envision playing Darryl Johnson?
Beane: Defensive end would be here. Our coach Bill Teerlinck spent some time with him and one of our scouts. That’s a lower-level program so sometimes those guys are still developing, but by all accounts [he’s] a great young man. I’ve not been able to spend any time with him, nor has Sean [McDermott], but everybody speaks very highly of him. You see a guy on tape that shows athletic ability. A skill set you can tell he’s playing above most of the people he’s playing against. Still very raw, but we like the skill set and look forward to getting him in here and working with him. Kind of like a new piece of clay.
Q: Darryl Johnson told us that he’s already added 20 pounds and could add 10 more. What does that show about him?
Beane: These guys that don’t play at the big-time programs don’t have the same nutrition plans, and you see that with guys. We take that into account. We try to look at guys, that’s one of the things we do, we body-type them. Does this guy look like he can add good muscle? We did feel like this is a guy that’s still young, still filling out. We’ll get him up here and get him with our sports performance people. You want to add good weight. I can’t tell you if that 20 pounds is good weight or not, but we look forward to getting him up here.
Q: What was it like going through this draft knowing that you didn’t have to fill the quarterback position knowing you had Josh Allen in place?
Beane: I believe in the philosophy in really spending a lot of time on getting the board set. It’s not just me and the scouts. We get it set to where we think, we give the coaches areas and guys we want them to focus on and then we bring them in. We want to hear what they see. The things we see eye-to-eye on, if Sean [McDermott] and his staff see in the same way we do, perfect. We see this guy, we got him. The ones we don’t, we continue to try and get that figured out. We’re not going to agree on every guy, but we try to get it so that when that board is set when we start on Thursday I’m not going, “Well Sean do you like this guy better than this guy?” We just kind of follow the board as it goes down. It was easier coming in knowing we weren’t having to start from 21, 22 to try and go up and get Josh [Allen], who we eventually did. This year we stayed patient and got Ed [Oliver]. We were very excited in the second round to get Cody [Ford].
Q: Was it an advantage to be patient while teams that were desperate for quarterbacks, which eventually led to Ed Oliver falling to you?
Beane: It did. Like I said, in the mock scenarios we did, any of the scenarios we did where only one quarterback went, which was Kyler [Murray], it wasn’t as favorable for us. In those scenarios we were talking about potentially if certain guys were all gone that we would want to move back. Fortunately, we had some teams that we could’ve moved back with that wanted that pick. I think I mentioned that the other day that people didn’t know what Denver was doing, whether they were going to jump on a quarterback. The linebacker that Pittsburgh traded up [to take] that some people were after. I felt we were at a good spot if we didn’t get an Ed Oliver-type to move back and accumulate picks.
Q: Where do you envision playing Vosean Joseph?
McDermott: We’ll see when we get here, right now where we are on Vosean is that he’ll come in and play one of the outside positions, whether it’s Sam or Will. First and foremost try and learn our system from a line-of-scrimmage standpoint. The special teams piece of it too would be critical in particular in the first year.
Q: Were Vosean Joseph’s instincts what stood out to you when scouting him?
McDermott: Yeah, I would say he plays a free style of football that’s rugged, it’s physical, it’s nasty. That’s to me what jumps off the tape. He pulls the trigger and then plays a physical brand of football.
Q: Is that the same with Darryl Johnson?
McDermott: They’re a little bit different. Brandon kind of hit it. We spent a lot of time talking about Johnson. He’s a good player with some upside. Didn’t play at a level that most people get a chance to play at there with the top level of talent in terms of the competition. We hope his best football is ahead of him.
Q: When you have guys taken in later rounds that might not make an immediate impact, just the importance of getting them in the pipeline and sitting behind guys so they may be succeeding in the future.
McDermott: We’re at a time of year where there’s a lot of teams that feel like they’ve significantly improved their football team. I would say that I feel good about what we’ve done, but this is also the time of year where people make these, “Hey we’ve arrived, we’ve got this great team,” and we make these projections and guarantees. You see some of that out there already, from whatever the source is. I would just say look, we’re putting a team together and sometimes it’s hard to see, in maybe some of those cases, how that piece fits right now. That will work itself out over time. That’s part of what the competition piece of that is and how that comes into play. I’ve said before, we’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s been some good players added in our division, and I think those teams feel like they’ve improved their football team as well. We certainly have our work cut out for us here, and that’s where our focus is. And we do look forward to getting these players in, not only the first two but also the other guys that could become good pieces for us in time and will add certainly to the competition early on.
Q: Brandon, you mentioned yesterday that position one for Cody Ford would be right tackle. What does that then do with Ty Nsekhe starting off and, along the same lines, Dion Dawkins?
Beane: I mean, I’ll let Coach [Brian] Daboll and Sean and [offensive line coach] Bobby [Johnson] figure that out. I would say it’s competition. We’re not saying that Cody is going to start. I’m not saying he’s running out with the ones at right tackle. He may start [with] the twos. I’ll let those guys decide. The thing about Ty is that we think he can play both. I wouldn’t put Cody at left [tackle]. I think versatility there, with Dion at left [tackle], Cody at right [tackle], and Ty can play either one. Again, it’ll be the best two tackles that can help us that will start in September.
Q: Sean, in regards to the offensive line conversation, just philosophically, how do you go about a competition when there are three guys that can play tackle? You can argue one or more of them can play guard, if they wanted. Some of these guards can play either spot, and they can play center. How do you go about reps and deciding who plays where? At what point do you need to pick a direction to go with?
McDermott: That’s a great question. That is part of the challenge. You want to give everyone a chance to compete and see what their best football looks like. But also, at some point, you’re right. We need to make a decision and go with it so that we can build the continuity that’s so important and the communication that goes with it and the chemistry that you want one cohesive unit to have. That’s a challenge. As we talked last night in this same room about when you add the turnover of the roster that you don’t have the continuity built up. That’s now what we hope we can do moving forward. Not only this year, but in years ahead. When you look at… I mean, let’s look over at New England, where they’ve been together 16 years. There’s that continuity where you’re able to adjust within a game, even if it wasn’t in the game plan. That adjustment was done two years ago, and the guys can recall it, whether it’s the coaching staff or the players. There’s a real value in that continuity, and at some point for us, to your point, we have to find when that is and go with it in terms of building that continuity with the one’s or with the two’s or with the three’s. But early on, it is important that we get a feel for who we have and what they do best.
Q: Brandon, I don’t think we’ll talk to you again before the deadline for the fifth-year option hits here in early May. I know you’re just coming out of the draft, but have you made any decision in regards to that with Shaq Lawson?
Beane: No. I told Sean that we’re just going to get through the Draft. We’ll sit down this week. I talked to [Shaq Lawson’s] agent. He understands our timeline. Very good communication with them. We’ll see where we’re at and we’ll make a decision.
Q: Jaquan Johnson… I know a lot of guys drafted this late don’t have huge measurables, but do you think he plays maybe a little bigger than he measures?
Beane: I think the thing about Jaquan is that he’s not a great tester. He’s not going to jump out of the gym or run the fastest, but when you turn on the tape, you see a football player. That’s one of the things that Sean and I were talking about earlier. Sometimes, there’s guys when you’re playing in t-shirts and shorts in May and June that really look good, and there’s others that don’t. I’m not sure he’s going to stand out, I’m not saying he won’t. But I think he’ll stand out when you get 11-on-11 in pads.
Q: Cam Lewis, a [University at Buffalo] cornerback, just tweeted out that he’s got an agreement with the Bills. Do you want to say anything about that?
Beane: We think he has some nickel abilities. If we’re fortunate enough to add him to our team, then it’ll be good to have him. Another UB guy. We told you earlier – we love the UB program. If we can find some fits here, we think it’s a cool little stepping ground for them and for us.
Q: Now that we’re just about through most of the team building, you only have about seven or eight roster spots remaining to be filled. Looking back to early February when you began to lay the plan out, as you sit here today, do you feel like you’ve accomplished the steps that you were hoping to accomplish back in February? Again, you’re not quite done, but you’re almost done with building the team.
Beane: You lay out a plan and you have all sorts of players back to free agency that you’re targeting at various positions. But it’s very blurry because there’s so many variables that go into adding those guys. The draft is a little easier. Sean has alluded to it – we’ve added players that we feel are improvements to our roster. But it’s not just accumulating talent, it’s building a team. We like what we’ve added. Now, it’s trying to build this thing and getting these guys in here. Now that we’ve added these rookies, it’s a new group that we have to get to know what they do well, what they don’t, what kind of people they are, any injuries. Sometimes, you get a guy in here and they have a nagging hamstring or something going on. Still a long way to go. I think I’ll have a better idea of how we look in about a month.
McDermott: It’s about the process of knowing your team, right? You really don’t have a good feel for who you’ve got or what your identity is and how it takes its shape until the first quarter of the season, really. That’s probably true every year, just about.
Q: The cornerback position… I know you guys touched on the undrafted [Cam Lewis] here. The fact that you didn’t draft anybody – does that speak to how you’re comfortable with the health of E.J. [Gaines] and Kevin [Johnson] and even Taron [Johnson], Sean, with where they are right now?
McDermott: Yeah, I think we’re on schedule. They’ve done a nice job with their rehab. The medical staff has done a tremendous job. The work that the players have put in in being here and coming in at off times to get the rehab necessary to get themselves back to where they can compete. That process continues, and we’ll continue to monitor them. But I feel like with respect to Levi [Wallace], E.J., and those guys, I feel like E.J. was a good add for us. He understands coming back to us now what we’re all about. We look forward to working together again.
Q: Sean, Brandon said yesterday that your defense was here [gesturing higher] and your offense was here [gesturing lower]. For all that’s kind of been added here – I know you said that you have a lot to blend and a lot to put together – do you at least feel like you have more viable options to make use of now going forward on the offensive side of the ball?
McDermott: Right. That’s the point. It really is. This is Brandon’s second draft and my third draft. Getting the roster to the point where you feel like you can go out and play a game. We hope at this point we’ve minimized some holes that we feel like we had when we first got here and continue to add good people to our building and build it the way we believe it should be built. That doesn’t mean we have made all the right decisions, but we feel like we’ve taken steps forward in that direction, yes.
Q: You talked about the work you have ahead of you to put this team together. But now, after all of these additions, after the lows of last season and the highs of last season, how excited are you at the potential now going into next season?
McDermott: People who know me know I don’t like that word, ‘potential.’ That’s not a favorite word of mine. At any rate, I think I know where you’re coming from. I’m excited. The bottom line is I’m excited. I’m excited to lead this football team. I’m excited to work with Brandon. I’m excited to work with the great team we have inside these walls and to be a Buffalo Bill. I’m excited to work with our players every day, our coaching staff, our scouts. We’ve got a great group of people and a great staff here. It’s an exciting time to be a Buffalo Bill and a fan of the Buffalo Bills. I think people can feel the direction of this team and the direction of this organization moving in the right direction. That means a lot to Brandon and myself, and it means a lot to our players. It really does. I think the players that we’ve brought in really start to feel and embrace what it means to play for this team and the fan base.