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Brandon Beane’s draft strategy might be all about specific players

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In a recent video released by the Buffalo Bills, we glean a rare glimpse of a GM at work, and Brandon Beane’s focus on specific players shines through

In the world of the NFL draft, the two dominant philosophical approaches are drafting for need and drafting for the best player available or “BPA.” Drafting for need is typified by selecting players to fill current gaps. Drafting BPA is characterized by selecting the highest graded player available, even if the team is “set” at that position.

Inherently, the two approaches aren’t entirely exclusive of each other. A team drafting a safety will still take the best one available. A team with similar grades on two prospects will take the player that best matches the team’s needs. With this brief primer out of the way, what does Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane lean toward?

A video released by the Bills shows Brandon Beane in action during the draft and provides us with insight into the team strategy when it comes to selecting players. If you haven’t seen it yet, this link is worth a click. It shows Beane flirting with both philosophies, as he sticks to team grades like a BPA approach. Beane also isn’t shy about moving around to target specific players attached to specific positions, similar to drafting for need.

Though Buffalo ended up sticking with pick nine in the first round, Beane acknowledged talking with teams “well ahead of us” as well as teams behind them for a possible trade. As the first round unfolded the Bills continued to contemplate a trade. Per Beane, when they saw that the New York Giants selected Daniel Jones they knew they weren’t moving back. Selected three spots ahead of Buffalo, the suggestion from this assertion is that Beane had three or more specific players that were valued highly enough to pick at number nine.

While that still fits a BPA mold, it also starts to tell a tale of a general manager looking for certain players. After the Detroit Lions selected T.J. Hockenson, Beane characterized the room as “excited” as this left Ed Oliver on the board. According to Beane, Oliver had the highest grade on their board.

Following the selection of Ed Oliver, Brandon Beane discussed how he fielded calls to trade back into the back end of the first round. A potential deal was shot down with Beane and Joe Schoen the assistant general manager not offering enough compensation in the proposed deal. Immediately after, Beane reported “[He] didn’t sleep well going into Friday” because he was focused on determining where he “needed to get to, to secure Cody [Ford].”

Beane indicated they tried trading for Ford with several teams, but were having trouble working out a deal. A despondent room was convinced that the Carolina Panthers would select Cody Ford. When that didn’t happen...well just look at Beane’s reaction when he learned Carolina went with Greg Little instead.

In the next round, Beane reported that the Chicago Bears were trying to trade with Buffalo. Not loving the value of what Chicago was offering, Beane mentioned they would stay with the pick if one of “our guys” was available. Beane mentioned Devin Singletary by name, who the Bills did select rather than trading back.

This was followed by what is described by Beane as a “run on tight ends.” Beane’s reaction was “Let’s see if we can get back up there and get Knox.” That’s exactly what Beane did. For Brandon Beane and the 2019 NFL Draft, he knew who he wanted and was willing to make it happen.