The 2020 NFL Draft is over and the Buffalo Bills have made their picks. Following Friday night’s pick on Day 2 and the conclusion of Day 3, general manager Brandon Beane spoke to the media. Below, we’re sharing the full unedited transcripts from those ZOOM chats.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Q: Just talk us through the strategy of how tonight fell?
A: Yeah, I mean it felt, we honestly, we had some guys that were going to be in the mix as it was falling to us, liked how the board was. We truly set it up to, I mean, there were guys on both sides of the ball with 10 picks left that were in the mix, including [A.J.] Epenesa. And so we never tried to trade up in the second round. We liked who was on the board and we had good grades. Obviously Epenesa, you’ve seen his production. Without asking the question, I don’t know exactly why he fell. I assume he fell because his 40 time. Some people knocked him a little bit on that, but you know how I care about that stuff. I’m looking for football players and he’s a damn good football player.
Q: Were you surprised how both of these picks really seem to fall into your lap?
A: Yeah, the second one was much more stressful. To be honest with you. We had Moss in a pretty good spot up there. Once those other backs, there was starting to be a little mini run on backs. I was worried about him. Fortunately, we actually were making some calls. He’s a guy that I felt fit a need, but we had a little higher than where we got him. And so, I’m not saying we had him in the first round or anything like that, I’m just saying he was sticking out on the board. And as I’ve tried to explain to you guys before, if I got a guy that’s sticking out on the board with a need, I’m going to try to go get them. So it wasn’t going to be anything crazy, but we were talking to teams. You know three, four, five, six, seven of us offering a Saturday pick. Teams just kept picking. There was a lot of talk about people wanting to get out of their picks and then we got out there nope nobody want to get out of their picks. So it felt good, patience paid off even though it might have been a struggle.
Q: Can you talk about how Epenesa and Moss fit your team as needs?
A: Yeah, I mean listen, you know how I am and you saw how we attacked free agency with the D line. We’ll draft three more tomorrow if we think they fit. I mean we just truly believe in that. You don’t pass up pass rushers. The thing about Epenesa that I really liked is his versatility. He’s got production from the inside as a three tech and then from the outside, so I see him lining up as a left defensive base end. And then reducing down as a sub rusher at times, so the versatility is what I like. He’s got a couple years of double digit sack production. I think the Holiday Bowl, either had two or 2.5 sacks, you guys can check my stats. He was the MVP. Just a good football player. He’s not gonna win the sexy appeal, I get that, but we’re Buffalo. And nobody thinks there’s anything sexy about Buffalo so he’s going to fit us well. He is a good ole Iowa boy.
Q: How much did Epenesa’s mentality factor into your desire to get him? And secondly, how has this draft gone for you from a technical aspect?
A: The first question, both of these guys, we feel are high-character guys and that’s very important to us. That’s why they were on the board. There were quite a few guys who have gone off on these first three rounds that would have been on our boards as talented players, but we just didn’t feel they were the right fit. So that does that weigh with us.
And secondly, overall I think it’s gone pretty well. Last night, we got a little bit of a dry run to kind of see how it was going and how the league stuff would work out. How we do transactions and things like that. Without us doing a transaction it seemed like it went well across the league, I didn’t really hear anything. Today it’s gone fine. I’ve had my various Zooms and different video conferences going. Everything with the league, our communication has gone well. We were set up as I was making some of those calls before Zack Moss got picked. If we had moved up a little bit, we were rolling with—basically I mute all the other zooms and I have that small zoom that I was telling you about yesterday with Jim Overdorf, Dan Morgan, Kevin Meganck and Joe Schoen. Just all communicating so that I can hear what’s going on with the various teams that they’re talking to or that I’m talking to it.
Q: Was there any emphasis to add strong, physical, powerful players to your roster? Both of these guys seem to be cut from the same cloth.
A: I think it’s a little bit of both. I mean, we set the board up. There were some guys that are a little more finesse, but big time players. You know Epenesa has got great measurables. His length and all those things, which I do find important. It’s not the end all be all, obviously we selected Ed Oliver last year, who didn’t have those prototype measurables but Epenesa does. Zack, I think he’s a very good complement to Devin (Singletary). Devin has that shiftiness. Zack’s gonna be more of that banging in there. I’m not going to try, not that he can’t dodge, but he’s going to lower that shoulder and try to, a little bit like Frank (Gore) did at an older age for us. I see that roll. Zack can catch the ball. So it won’t be that he can’t sit there and pass pro, he’s a smart guy. He’s a pro and we’re looking forward to getting them in here and pairing them up with Devin.
Q: Is tomorrow going to be more of a waiting game where you wait for player’s to fall to you where you are drafting like they did tonight?
A: We won’t reach out of the round. If I’ve got a guy in the mid-four and a guy at the bottom of four, I might lean to need especially if where I think this guy is going to have a bigger impact immediately. Now that we’re moving in later rounds, like we talked about earlier, these first couple picks I was truly just going to sit there and [take the] best player. That’s what we’re going to take. The running back was probably the bigger neither of the two, if you want compare that. With that said, there were other guys that came off too that would have been in the mix. So it was a really easy decision for Zack where he was sitting on the board. Tomorrow, hopefully it’s the best player available, but if it’s close and there’s a need we may aim to the need.
Q: Was the Epenesa pick one where you were really thinking about the future and getting younger?
A: Yeah, definitely. You always look to what’s next and adding in there. It wasn’t a concerted effort, I mean there were guys there that were going to be in the mix on both sides of the ball, so it wasn’t like I was going, ‘Man we gotta not come out of tonight without a pass rusher or defensive end.’ It could have easily gone to offense or to defense. So it was truly tonight going to be just strictly best player available. You can never go on as I said to start this thing out in my book, the way I believe building it, in being strong up front with a guy who can rush. And again, I love Epenesa’s versatility as a inside, outside player.
Q: Did that huge run on receivers change things for you?
A: Yeah there was a run and we had some guys that would have been in the mix there, but they went. And so we weren’t going to dip down. I mean, there were guys that we had the third round, that we could have taken with Epenesa, but we’re going best player available. And so that’s the way it was. Yeah there was, I thought there may be some that we that we liked at 54. I would have lost the bet today, I would have thought there would have been a wide receiver that we would have still had a second round grade on, but there wasn’t.
Q: How deep did you consider this draft to be?
A: I think it was deep, but I don’t think it was as first round deep. I think it was deeper in two and three than it was one, in my opinion. We had more second round grades and third round grades then we did first round grades. But it’s to each his own. So some people may have had it flipped a little bit, but we did feel it was a deep draft. I tell you some years, there’s more wild card picks. There hasn’t to this point been as many wild card picks, which that part has been a little bit annoying because I like when guys come from different areas and they’re not coming out the same rounds that were picking out of. It was getting very dicey, our third round was pretty picked over. Fortunately, some of the teams that were right in front of us had already picked running back. So once it got close, I was just trying to stay in there. If they were willing to trade it, I would trade just to keep someone else who didn’t have a running back to trade, but they all made their picks and I felt pretty confident those last few wouldn’t take a back, I was just a little uneasy that someone may try and trade in to take Zack. That would have been, I’d be in a different mood right now if that did happen.
Q: Brandon do you think not making any trades had anything to do with the set-up of this draft?
A: I think as far as functionality, no. I think everybody has got it down. It’s not that hard to make a trade. Maybe the separation of I have got to get on the phone with this guy, you got this zoom going. You’re talking to your owner, explaining what you might you may give up and what it would cost us tomorrow or later today. I do think that could slow it down, but I don’t think it’s bothered us. I could see, there were a couple of teams that we were talking to that were interested in what we were willing to give, I don’t think they were felt we were shortchanging them, but they kept running the clock down. One of them I got on the phone and Joe [Schoen] had been talking to them. I called the GM with about 2:15 to go on the clock. I’m not going to give his name, but I’m like, ‘Hey, are we doing this or not? I don’t want to run out of time because when the clocks out if the trade goes through, somebody could jump me which would be a bad move on my part. So I was getting a little antsy. I think just all of that stuff, especially when it got down to five minutes, maybe that was a little bit of a problem.
Q: Good to go enough to last question here without that pick in the first round, are you almost kind of gracious for that time that you got to get used to this new setup and see how this entire thing was going to run from home?
A: Yes or no. Yesterday was rough. I was, I was dying watching some of these guys come off the board. You do the work in the fall and you see him and when you’re at these schools or at these games and you’re going, man. That guy is going in the first round, he can help us. It was tough, there were some players we really liked. But, as I told you guys a while back, I just gonna have to think of Stefon [Diggs] and I know Derek [Boyko] and social media people put some stuff together. That helped me sleep a little bit better but it was, it was not easy functionality wise though it was, it was a good time for us all. We had done it once last Friday, and then once with the league on Monday so I felt good about it but it was another run through never hurts to run through it again.
Q: So that social media campaign was as much for you as it was the fans?
A: Oh that was all for me. I was dying. A couple of our guys kept reminding me, ‘Hey our first round pick is Stefon.’ But it was hard I told everybody don’t let me do anything crazy and trade into the first so everybody knew to not allow it, so it was good work by my team.
Q: How closely Do you watch the division, while all this is going on in particular teams like the Dolphins who literally seem to have a pick every fifth team, and seeing the Patriots kind of drop out of the first round and obviously the Jets take a guy who’s an absolute man mountain how closely are you watching those teams?
A: Yeah, definitely. I have a one of my one of those side screens you saw there, I had what their picks are and you know you guys that came in the draft room that those side screens that I had in there. I’ve got a couple of those I don’t have four I’ve got two, but I can move them around by division. And so, I always had the AFC East stuff paying attention to what they’re doing. But you can’t control that they they’ve done what they’ve done to you know try and make themselves better and I’m sure they’re very – this is a happy time for all 32. The proof will be in the pudding, if Buffalo Bills knew what they were doing and that’s all I control. It’s truly like playing golf, you can only control how you play on the course you can’t do anything to your competitors and so you do keep an eye out so you know what, what’s coming at you. You know if they had an offensive weapon or a pass rusher or left tackle like you’re talking about with the Jets, so you do want to know what’s coming your way twice a year and we do have to win the division that’s our first and foremost goal, but at the same time not get antsy. Follow our boards, have our boards up and just follow it and so far I’m happy with, with what we’ve got.
Q: A quick follow up how much he tried to mimic what you have there, to what you have, at the, at the stadium you know your office and everything I mean you see shots of Bill Belichick sitting in his kitchen table with like one computer that flip phone setting but how much did you try to mimic what you guys do.
A: Yeah, I mean, Coach Belichick has a lot more skins on the wall so he can get away with that. I got a lot of proving to do, but no it’s a mini war room and Dan Evans, my IT guy, been time and [again] bragging on this dude. At some point, I’m gonna make him do like a world media tour soon but he’s been outstanding. We have like a little issue, started today, and with, with the Wi-Fi we have a backup Wi-Fi. It wasn’t my main one but if something happened to my main one, our backup was not working correctly and Dan, called them, got on the phone and 30 minutes later, we had the backup back up. So, he’s been great. He’s got all my screens working and, as I said, as long as I don’t screw it up, we’re gonna be alright.
Q: You go back to January look at some of the mocks and A.J. was going in that 13 to 20 range in the first round, and wondering, as this process has moved along you guys when did you guys start to really like him. And in this instance does how a player handles a stock drop does that impact how much you the player?
A: Yeah, I mean I think what we know about him is he’s a competitive guy, and that’s the first thing I said to him was hey I don’t know why you fell, different reasons sometimes. Sometimes guys it just happens to be around other players like we were talking about with receivers or things like that, and then maybe some people will feel he doesn’t fit what they’re doing, and you know I don’t know, I can only speak for how we had him and yeah I mean we saw those mocks and I definitely thought he’d go higher. Not gonna get into exactly where we had him, but I was fortunate, and we feel fortunate that he was there and that’s the first thing I said to him. I don’t know why you fail this far, but everything happens for a reason and Buffalo is a lot like Iowa. Like you’re gonna fit right into here, and you’re gonna love our fans you’re going to love our city. And I think you guys have spoken to him. Hopefully that went well. I assume it did but, yeah, I think he’ll have a chip on his shoulder to prove that he did belong where those mocks had him at.
Q: Curious what your interactions were with both A.J. and Zack through this process understanding that some interactions had to be seriously altered from the usual because of all the substances.
A: Yeah, I mean we have these guys, you know, Zack and A.J. in Indy, and then our coaches have been on Zoom with them and reported back to me. They were not ones that I jumped on. I jumped on some, but the way you can do it you can record it. So I’m able to go back and watch some of them, but we had pretty good coverage on them some of them Leslie [Frazier] if you’re talking about A.J., I can’t remember if Leslie Frazier was on or not. I know Eric Washington and our assistant d-line Jacques [Cesaire] where I remember seeing them, but the same with Zack, you know, Coach [Kelly] Skip [Skipper], got on him with zoom and they said we had him at the combine as well and got to know him a little bit there. I did the school call at Utah and when I say that, that was one of the schools that I went to. I didn’t see the live game, but I flew out there in the fall and went to a practice and did the background on the guys because I don’t know if you’ve noticed they’ve, several guys drafted so I thought it was a school worth me getting to when I was out west. So, did get out there and see him run through a practice and go through certain things which confirmed as much as it can without watching them in a live game.
Q: I’m curious what you during this process how you were able to do the recon on injury history, because Zach Moss has had quite a few injuries and what you kind of dug up about that and how this you know everything going on kind of altered, what you’re able to do there.
A: Yeah, really he was at the combine, so the injury stuff – he was not even a guy that needed to come back from for medical rechecks or anything like that. They got everything and you know he’s like any of them they all have certain things. This guy has a knee, a shoulder whatever that, you know, has had a surgery or maybe some maintenance here or there, but he was not a guy that I have some guys on my board that are in red. That means there are some medical concerns and maybe there’s a couple that I dropped them. I can think of one, I dropped him a round. I can think of another I dropped him a couple of rounds. Because there are to your point medical concerns but there was nothing. You know, major with Zach, that, that our medical people were felt like I needed to flag them and potentially drop his value.
Q: If you can reflect back to the first round of yesterday I hate to bring that up, but when you saw three receivers go by the 17th pick, did that validate maybe your thought process, on what you, what you’re thinking what you traded for Stefan. And secondly, did a smile come across your face as you’re scouting Epenesa and his first sack is against Josh Allen?
A: Yeah. To be honest with you, I just got told that I didn’t, I couldn’t have told you that it was, but I remember watching that game, watching Josh’s stuff. It was a couple plays Josh was keeping them in that game and then tried to make a couple plays against a tough team. But you know he’s one of those guys, you know, you know at the end of the day, you know, that I didn’t think would be there. As far as your question with the wide receivers. With the wide receivers I don’t know if it validates or not I mean, if you remember, I think I went through this with you guys. The receivers, with Stefan, we traded up value wise, around the 18-19 area but and to your point, those guys went in the top 17 so we would have had to give more, and that’s if those teams were willing to move as well. That’s a double-edged sword. You can always talk about trading up, but you got to have that trade partner that’s willing to do it for the compensation you think is fair and so that all went into my thinking, or our thinking when we, we made that move. I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to you guys if it validates it or not, but it was in my thinking.
Q: Questions have been asked and you’ve given some anecdotal descriptions on the logistics of things, but I just wanted to ask from an overall standpoint. What you’ve learned from this process by being forced to look at it or conduct it from a different way. In terms of just how you’re going to do drafts in the future. Because I’m guessing you will, I don’t want to put words in the mouth I just leave it at that. What is this being forced to do it differently, taught you about this.
A: I think at the end of the day there’s probably sometimes – the one thing that I’m going to take through this that I note is there, you know, my college scouts leave training camp they come in for, you know, 10 days or so and then they start, you know, going all their tools in the fall and watching these guys in summer practice, working their way into games, and I don’t see him again till December, kind of face to face like we are. Unless I’m meeting them at a game or happen to be at a school, but that’s hit and miss. Sometimes I’m on the phone with them. It’s more text, email, things like that just goes they’re running around and I’m running around. I think when I’ll definitely add to what I’m doing is, I feel very good with as you guys probably do by now with this exercise, and I’ve even added it to some you know there’s been some calls with coaches that I normally just had a phone and say hey let’s, let’s jump on a Skype or Zoom or whatever. And I can see him and get those non-verbals, so I’ll definitely add that. Meeting wise I don’t know there’s things that I missed us being able to watch film together that we really couldn’t do just the technology. Everybody would have to have some really good hardwire or Wi-Fi to do that and we just don’t have that. So I don’t know that it’s going to truly change my meeting process, but I think we’re all more tech savvy you guys included there are some time where this is better than just a phone call or a text.
Q: I wanted to ask you about your running backs. How would you analyze your depth chart from a size standpoint, given mostly talking about Devin and Zach Moss.
A: Yeah, I mean, again, Devin is a little over 200 pounds. I think he does run tough he’s, he’s obviously more of a make you miss guy. Zach, as I said earlier, he’s going to be more of that first and second down guy. I think he’ll be fine on third down. And then, again, I know you said those two, but T.J. Yeldon is right there. I’m glad that we have T.J. under contract for another year and he brings versatility as well. If he needs to start a few games, he can. He can catch it out of the backfield. We used him last year when Devin went down as more of that sub back and Frank [Gore] was kind of first and second down back. So, you know I think more of the goaline and things like that as we did with Frank last year, you’ll see Zack do. I think Devin will do a similar role that he had and then we’ll see how T.J. mixes in there.
Q: Just a couple of things you touched on this stuff, but the biggest knock on Epenesa seems to athleticism or lack thereof. Specific to that could you just give us your take on it and from Moss, the 40 times at the combine, how much do you think that hurt him in terms of his draft stock.
A: Yeah, I mean I think a lot of guys are - I’ll start with Moss. I think a lot guys are looking for that guy he wasn’t used big time in the past game he was more of a kind of a flare out or screen guy. His hands are fine he just wasn’t used – I think some of these guys that went higher, people might argue, and not all of them, but I’m not gonna get in the name, but some of them may argue you know there’s such a call for look at how we use Devin, look at some of these backs that you split them out. You don’t know in the huddle, when the backs in there if he’s gonna be in the backfield, if he’s gonna motion out, if he’s gonna stay out there and actually run a route. We did that with Devin some last year. I don’t know that we would do that with Zack, and that seems to be where the game has gone. There’s been more guys that people are trying to get that versatility to keep the defense. I feel like that as much as anything, offensive coaches are wanting these, these versatile skill sets to truly run these guys out there and there were some, some backs that went early that I do think have that quality. They may not have the physicality that Zack brings, but that swapped out for more of ability to – and not that Zack can’t go out there and run a route, but to be a mismatch type guy. And then Epenesa I think the biggest guess that I have – I mean obviously not every team is going to tell me where they have guys on their board. You know, like anything you get some follow up texts from people around the league and I think people definitely had him much higher than he then he went, not everybody. I think the 40 time, you know, that happens to people, you know they just certain people have parameters that if this guy, whatever position by position specifics that they’re going to drop the value. If, if they don’t meet certain, you know, measurables or short shuttle certain things. Again, call me crazy. I just, I got play speed and production in watching the film, I rely more on that. I understand the measurables and don’t think I don’t talk about them but at the end of the day, I go back to the tape.
Q: Did you actually watch Stefon Diggs highlights, as you said you were going to when the 22nd pick came up?
A: I didn’t watch him on my TV but, I knew [Derek Boyko] and that crew was gonna do it so I did flip that on, too. I didn’t just sit there and do what I said I was gonna do, but I did look at the highlights. I’m supporting our social media people. I don’t have Twitter but my wife has it, so I was able to see it.
Q: Zack Moss, his style is obviously very hard-nosed. He even said he likes to make defenders make business decisions, which is kind of funny but given that style and the fact that he had close to 800 touches in college. Are you concerned about that at all as far as how you have kind of manage that and how do you manage that going forward?
A: Yeah, I mean, we like to mix our guys in, you see that. You don’t see that, you know, rarely do you see the workhorse, 20 plus carries anymore. I mean, how much do we really see that? It’s like baseball pitchers. Rarely do you see a guy starting to the whole game. You get to the sixth inning and you’ve got the setup guy, the seventh inning guy, the eighth inning guy, and I don’t know all the baseball terms. I’m not going to show my ignorance there. Long story short, you just don’t see guys. Walter Payton, guys like that, Jim Brown, back then they just are getting the ball, and they’re playing 80% of the snaps. There’s variations, there’s guys that are better in passing downs, better in the run downs, and so coaches use that more of a shuffling personnel on and off. So I have no worry about him. We’ll use him. Coach Daboll and Kelly Skipper will use him how they see fit.
Q: What would you say are Zack Moss’ best traits? How do you think his style fits what Daboll likes to do?
A: I think you can use him as a zone one cut guy, you can pound it in the gap scheme. We vary both of those, but a little more gap scheme than the zone stuff. As I said earlier, he’s going to be more of the physical…he’s not necessarily going to try to avoid contact. He can but I think his best thing is, in the end, correct me if I’m wrong but I think he had zero fumbles. You like the ball security. There were a couple guys in this draft that had some really good plays but were issues, we had concerns with the ball security. I love his physicality. I like that he takes care of the ball. And I think, while Devin [Singletary] may play more in the passing downs than him on paper, I think he can get out there and do it if that makes sense.
Q: And then breaking tackles?
A: He was one of the highest, I think, like 38 percentage runs or something he broke at least one tackle. There’s some stat out there. My analytics crew has it. Check it out. I know you know stuff, but I think that was the number. He’s a guy that keeps his feet moving. He’s a compact build, hold that ball tight, seems like he must be left hander how he holds that thing in there, a lot of times tight left hand. And again, he’s not a big time home run threat, but he’s got enough play speed, he’s got what I call competitive speed, and you do see some long runs from Moss.
Q: For these rookies, generally it’s a time for them to under normal circumstances, fly to new towns where the facilities are, get settled, and then come back for rookie camp in a couple weeks. What is the process for these new guys now moving forward?
A: Yeah, we’ll be able to send them some playbooks here soon and we’ll get them some gear and get them set up with all of the coaches. We really won’t be able to do much with them until that rookie camp that we would have and similar to what we have going on with the vets, you can start that weekend, holding some virtual meetings and things like that. So we’ll work through the logistics and see where our country is at, as much as anything. But everything’s gonna be virtual. Unfortunately, that’s the disappointing thing. I love getting to know these guys and bringing their families in. It’s always a fun time after you draft them. These first couple days, they bring their girlfriend, mom, dad, whatever. And just kind of put your arms around them and welcome them. That’s probably the disappointing part of this, is what we’re doing right here, we have to do the same thing with our players.
Q: So it’d be a lot more classroom-oriented then?
A: Yeah, we’re not going to be able to get on the field with them or anything right now.
Q: I recently had a conversation with Bill Polian, and he said that at some point, a team reaches a stage where they get good enough that you start to draft to beat the one or two teams that are maybe a little bit better. Have you guys gotten to the point where you can start to draft to beat the Chiefs, beat the teams that you’re chasing?
A: The first thing you have to do is win your division. So, we do pay most attention to that and what we’re up against, what kind of offense they’re going to run, where their strengths are going to be on all three phases; offense, defense and special teams. Each team. Now we’ll reassess their personnel and see if it changed what we think. Okay, now that this team has added these players, maybe they’re going to run more 11 personnel than 12 personnel or vice versa. What’s going to be the strength of all sides of the ball? You do pay attention to your conference. We probably pay attention to our division, conference, but also our opponents for this year, the 2020 opponents. But you have to win your division, and that’s our main focus. We haven’t won it since the mid-90s, and until we do that, we’re not gonna be able to host a playoff game in Buffalo and that’s the next goal.
Q: I know, especially with this draft in particular, you are extremely cognizant of how, who you’re drafting, what positions you’re drafting to and whether or not they will get on the roster and making sure that there’s a spot there. So when you draft A.J. [Epenesa], sign Quinton Jefferson, sign Mario Addison, where does that leave Trent Murphy with you guys right now and are you trying to look into trying to move him to a team where he could provide?
A: No, we’re just adding players right now. We believe in competition and things like that. So no. Trent is participating in our offseason program just like other guys. As I started out with the first Epenesa question, I believe our D line has to be strong. We’re a long way till September, a lot of things can shake out as to who that, eight, nine, ten guys, whatever we decide to keep up front so. No, nothing like that.
Q: I’m gonna have to start calling you Beane the burglar, how you continue to steal in the draft year in and year out, getting guys like Epenesa and Moss. How important is it to get impact players in the meat and potato rounds?
A: Yeah, it is, you’re right. Obviously, you would love to get all starters, but it doesn’t always work that way. As you get into these meat and potato rounds, if it’s not a guy that you think is going to start, you would love to get a guy that is going to push a starter somewhere or be a solid backup. And if he’s a solid backup, how will he affect our special teams? Is he going to be able to get a jersey, is he going to be one of those 46? They’ve upped that to 48 this year but, how does he effect the game day roster? That’s what you’re looking at into tomorrow. If it’s not a starter, how does he get a jersey? Does this player over here, even though he might not challenge to start, this guy might challenge to start, but if this player doesn’t win the starting job, he’s not as good on special teams. Whereas we know this guy is going to be a full court player, maybe not as good of a chance to start. Maybe it’s a fifth linebacker with no chance to start, but he’s a really good special teamer, versus a guy with a chance to start. So those are the decisions that you get to weighing and that’s how we try and set the board up. There are some guys late that we don’t think will ever be great starters. You look at a guy we added in free agency, Tyler Matakevich out of Temple and the career he’s made as a special teamer. No one saw him making a roster and he’s made a name for himself. So those are the things we look at, especially on day three.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Statement: First off, just want to thank my scouts. They did a great job all fall. They’re behind the scenes and they don’t get a lot of praise, but we’re not able to build this draft board without all their hard work and their due diligence. They’re the unsung heroes of how we get this thing started and identifying the guys that we want to focus our energy on. Especially identifying guys for me, Joe [Schoen], Dan [Morgan] and Terrance [Gray]. And secondly, our coaches. We try and catch them up after the season and we ask them to do a lot. This was obviously a different spring and they didn’t hesitate to learn Zoom and FaceTime and Skype and all these things that we’re all having to use now. A lot of hours, not on the road, but still a lot of hours, a lot of time, and it’s a team effort to help set this board. We set it before we go to the combine and then at that point we’re involving the coaches and I thought it in the end it was different. But I liked how we got to our final board.
I’ve been talking about a guy the last couple weeks, Dan Evans. Our IT guy. He’s the MVP. I’ve got to get him some kind of trophy, but he is the MVP of the draft. I don’t have any pictures of him, I was going to put it up but if you guys can Google him or find him, I would like to see him in all your publications. Front page, Dan Evans. So with that, I’ll turn it over to you guys.
Q: Good stuff mentioning Dan. That’s great. Why make the Jake Fromm pick?
A: The board. Simple as the board. I wouldn’t have told you going into today that he was on our radar, but we had him in a spot that you just can’t ignore and we gave him his due. This guy, he’s a winner at the highest level of college. You look at all the guys that come out of the SEC…this guy came in. He’s got all the intangibles. He’s smart. When I went down to that school to watch him practice, at that point they didn’t know if he would come out. They said he loves being the guy at Georgia and he loves just being there. They said this guy would be there 11, 12 at night with the coaches walking out the door at the same times the offensive coaches are. Just a guy who loves everything about the game, the full process, the preparation, and that matters. Listen if he had a big time cannon arm, or he was 6-5, those types of things, he would have gone day one. He’s got all the other things. Fair question, I’ll go ahead and jump to it. He’ll have to earn a spot here, but just too good to pass up. He’ll come in, obviously Josh [Allen] is our starter. Matt [Barkley] has been a great backup for us. I don’t know if he’ll be able to knock Matt off. We’ll see about that. But we could definitely go with two quarterbacks, we could go with three quarterbacks. Davis Webb has not got a real chance to show us what he can do. He’s still in the mix right now. Again, anytime you can add a good football player…. quarterbacks a premium position. I just felt like he was too good to value to pass up.
Q: Judging by the fact that you took a kicker, does Kaare Vedvik, is he going to be a punter a kicker or both for you guys when you go to camp? And then also, this is the first time I can remember that the Bills did not make any trades whatsoever from the start of the draft to the finish. Can you just comment on how that all went down and how close you may have come to trading pics either way.
A: I was just trying to…I’m always a curveball pitcher, today I just grew fast balls. I was trying to just give everybody something a little different. No, I mean, I would have lost a lot of money saying that the Buffalo Bills wouldn’t have done some type of trade. I was on a player that got selected three or four slots ahead of one of our picks. I was on with a team with the NFC, and we pretty much had worked out the parameters for that move. And while I was talking to that GM, the player got selected. So, there was one other time where we almost moved down in the round. But they were looking for a future pick and it wasn’t enough value for me. I liked what we had on the board, versus moving back. It was about 10 or 12 spots, we were gonna get a future pick but just didn’t feel they were giving us enough.
Q: Is Kaare Vedvik a punter, kicker, or both for you guys?
A: Yeah. So, first position one punter. Okay, position two. He’s the kickoff guy, and he can compete as a long field goal guy too. That’s one of the things we talked about with [Stephen Hauschka]. Last year Stephen wasn’t able to kick the 55-plus balls as much. But, we were happy with Stephen’s accuracy at 50 and in. So that was one of the attractive things of Vedvik, you know the various roles that he could play. So he’ll still be in that. And then, you know, same thing. We really liked this kicker and my exposure to him was at the senior bowl, really did a nice job with his leg. I was there all week because I stay for the BLESTO meeting so really you saw his leg strength. Live leg was banging some long field goals. And I was like wow this guy, you know leg strength in Buffalo… we know how windy it is. Kickoffs are super important. So we put him where we thought he belonged on the board, and you know he was the best player there. Again, Stephen is a proven guy. I extended Stephen a year ago, and still believe in Stephen. He made some big kicks down the stretch. So, this is by no means…. and that’s what I told Bass is that us drafting you is nothing more than we were going to… If we didn’t draft one, we would have signed one after the draft, because Vedvik’s position was going to be punter. So we definitely wanted to have going to camp with two punters and two kickers. So, we drafted one in the six, otherwise it would have been a priority free agent signing and there were some guys there that we were showing a lot of interest in but once Bass was there we decided to select him.
Q: How do you go about slotting kickers on your draft board?
A: They’re usually late. Rarely are you gonna see a guy above the fifth round. Once in a while you will. My experience that’s usually… you know, if you got a guy that’s really good and you think he’s mentally strong, he’s got the leg strength, a really good kicker, you’re talking about in the fifth round. There have been some guys that have been selected earlier than that. But most of the time, you’re gonna see him in the sixth and the seventh. And then a lot of them ended up not getting drafted and you fight for them as priority free agents, but I would say usually 5, 6, 7.
Q: How do you slot these guys when they have such a unique skill set that you’re actually putting them on a board with tackles and linebackers and things like that?
A: Yeah, you’re basing it on position value. Okay. Is this in the six round, who’s got a better chance to maybe make our roster - this linebacker here, or this kicker? And then sometimes it’s where you’re at. If where you’re at on the depths of your roster, whatever position is there, versus the kicker. That’s really what questions we had. What guys were on our board versus this kicker? Which guy can you say has the best chance to make our roster when they’re in similar positions on the board? That’s where he was. He was in the sixth round, and we had some other guys hanging around but we just decided that he had impressed us. Before the coronavirus hit that was one of the schools that had their pro day and Heath Farwell went down there and came back and said, you know, Tyler did a really nice job.
Q: What does a rookie kicker need to do to make a roster to unseat an incumbent? Not necessarily specific to Hauschka but just in general terms in the NFL? What’s the task ahead for a rookie kicker?
A: There’s only so many true game-winning situations or pressure situations. I think that’ll be Sean and Heath’s thing is to give him and Stephen as many variety of pressure situations. Sometimes that’s taking them in the stadium on a windy day, sometimes that’s having the whole team out there and saying hey, if you make this kick, we end without running sprints. You know, so you got 89 guys staring at you and saying “please make this kick so I don’t have to run three sprints or whatever it is.” Some team bonding stuff, you know there’s, you can only simulate game experiences so much, so that’s what you’re trying to do. It’s the golf analogy, hitting it on the driving range is great, but when you get out there and out of bounds and the water and all that, it is different. So, it’s not easy, and to go against a guy with Stephen’s history, you know, Tyler will really have to convince us that he is mentally strong. He’s got all the physical skills but he can handle the pressure.
Q: On the two receivers. It seems like looking at them on paper, it seems like there was a premium put on them for size, scoring ability and big catch radius. Would you agree with that?
A: Yeah, I got tired of hearing Sean call our group the smurfs. So we decided to get some larger ones. Honestly, that’s where it was on the board. We had some big guys, some slots, some guys that could play inside-out and it really just worked that way. Gabriel Davis was the highest player on our board. When he went even though it was a need, as well. He truly was the highest guy, not every guy was the highest guy, but he was. Hodgins was not the highest guy but he was equal with a position that we felt Hodgins had a better chance to make our roster.
Q: Do you feel that Davis and Hodgins do give large catch radius to Josh in the passing game?
A: Talking about Gabe first, I don’t know how much you know, whoever’s not watching, but he didn’t run a variety of routes in that offense. And I do think that might have hurt him a little bit. I think there is some unknowns. He’s a guy that we had had plans set up to go privately work him out and I was going to be there for that because I wanted to see more of the route tree. But at the end of the day, we actually called down there and got some of his practice clips. There was a few different variations than what we saw on film, not the full array that he will run here but, again, big player. Vertical stretch can go up, high point the ball, contested balls. And again, a size guy. He’s a strong guy. He’s got some run after catch. We just liked the way he competes, thought he had a really good year. And I thought his hands were one of his strong points and then, [Isaiah] Hodgins was a guy… I don’t know if he had more than one or two drops this year. Maybe two or three, I don’t remember, but he double-moved people. Really good feel for setting people up and guys biting on. I don’t think I saw a receiver win on double moves more than him. And again, another catch radius, bigger guy, bigger frame player. He was even taller than Davis so those two guys will come in and they’ll be competing as well against each other, along with Duke Williams and some of those other big guys that that we currently have on the roster.
Q: Going back to the receivers. How important was it for you to get as many weapons as you could for Josh Allen? Now with those two guys coming into the mix how do you see a crowded room?
A: Yeah, I mean kind of the theme that we tried to make it a lot of these areas is competition competition, competition. Back to the kickers and the quarterbacks and we just thought, hey, we’ve got some guys we’ve added Stefon [Diggs]. We got some guys coming back with Isaiah McKenzie, Robert Foster, you know some of those guys and then adding these two big guys to come in here and compete. Cole [Beasley]’s obviously a slot. Isaiah can play in and out. John Brown is mainly an outside vertical speed. Stefon can play... I think his position one is outside but he could also…. He showed Minnesota that that he can win inside. Just trying to give you know Brian [Daboll] as many variations, not to have all the same small guys, fast guys, big guys. I like that. This receiver draft, you know, it was true, we talked about all spring. This was a deep class and I mean there were some really good receivers; small, big, fast. Quick. I thought a lot of teams got better at the receiver position. It should make for better offense. Defense will be at a premium trying to stop some of these offenses.
Q: Wanted to ask you about Jake Fromm again. I know obviously he’s coming in here to compete for the job as the backup, but when he got to Georgia, that’s kind of what they said about him too. He won a job he wasn’t supposed to win. He’s a guy that he doesn’t back down from competition, what do you think that will bring to the quarterback room and how do you think he’ll mesh with Josh and their personalities?
A: Yeah, he’s from all accounts… You know, I’ve never really spent much time with him because we weren’t in the quarterback process. But as I say, when I went down there they just raved about him. He’s a country boy, loves ball, breathes ball, eats balls, sleeps ball, whatever it is. That’s who he is and he’s very smart. They bragged, this guy is a coach on the field, he understands things. Obviously this offseason, it’s not gonna be the easiest for a quarterback to pick up a pro style offense. I don’t know how quick that’s going to happen for him depending on when guys are allowed in the building. He’s going to be doing a remote here until the rules change, things open up, but he’ll definitely fit in. He’s a good guy, good character, a very high character person. I’m sure he’s going to come in, humble, as he did when he got to Georgia. [Jacob] Eason who got drafted today and [Justin] Fields, young man at Ohio State. Those are two talented players and he came in there and as you said, didn’t back down. He’s a winner. I mean to go in there at Georgia as a freshman and to unseat those guys and then win it all at the highest level. I mean, that’s pretty impressive that the moments not too big born. And so I look forward to him adding to the room. I know Josh, Matt, and Davis, those guys will welcome him. Competition brings the best in all of us and I know those guys will welcome him in the room.
Q: What was it like being at home with your family for a draft?
A: Yeah, it was fun. It was weird on Thursday. Like I gotta get to work, what are you guys doing here? Everything you’re used to do. So I was able to like get some charts, and yeah my sons did the board for a while. It got long at times so Haley actually jumped in and I had her managing the board, so that I could be doing stuff on our computer, but it was a family effort and it was fun. I think fun for them to just see how it works and they obviously were hearing some of the Zoom calls with the scouts, Sean, Terry and Kim were on one. So a draft that I don’t think any of us will ever forget. There were some fun things to it, obviously I miss, I feel bad that our scouts, they put so much work in that we couldn’t be [together]. Usually this time, take a deep breath, have a couple of drinks and just talk about what we got and what’s next. So we’re going to do that via Zoom when I get done with you guys so looking forward to that here shortly.
Q: What does it look like moving forward with the rookie program given the current circumstances?
A: Yeah, I mean we can’t do a lot with the rookies right now, they’ll be able to come in our rookie camp when they would normally physically come in. I think it is like May 8 or 9 or something like that. So, we can’t do much. We’ll get them their iPads for their playbooks and paperwork finalized with their agents remotely. Things like that, but until then, we really can’t meet and they won’t be able to work out with the vets or anything like that so it’ll more just be getting them the information they need and have a ready to start at that rookie camp. And then they’ll be able to join the vets, the next week with the virtual meetings that they’re going through.
Q: So rookie camp will still be done online?
A: Yeah, they’ll meet with them and I don’t know that it’ll be much physically, I think it’ll mostly be meeting, you know, one of the coaches would love to find a way to do walkthroughs and things like that, but I know they’re working on it. We’ll see what they come up with, but it’ll mostly be you’re just trying to teach them in small groups.
Q: Did you see Gabe Davis is already running routes?
A: I love it, I love it. That’s great. I think he has a chip on his shoulder and I assume you know the receivers are so deep, I assume a lot of these receivers felt like they belong to get drafted higher, but you know only so many are going to go in each round, it’s just the way it works.
Q: How ready do you think this roster is with free agency and the draft concluded?
A: We’ll still be looking around. We’re combing the PFA waters as we speak, we are working on that. We got a few done and the guys were still working on that. The next thing is that some teams will have excess and they may have drafted some positions that they didn’t anticipate and some vets could get released out there, so we’ll try and hold a couple spots if a veteran that we think at any position could come in and compete or win a spot to add to our 90, so I wouldn’t anticipate us getting to 90 in the next couple of days. We’ll see how the roster looks over the next couple of weeks, doesn’t mean we wouldn’t shuffle some people off though as well if we thought we found some upgrades.
Q: How has this virtual program adjusted your expectations for how rookies can compete for roster spots?
A: Yeah, I mean it’s a fair point. I think the unknown of when we can truly get them to Buffalo and do more than virtual meetings will be key for them, and all 32 teams, I know every coach is anxious to get their hands on them and start showing them what they’re going to need to do to compete for a spot. That’s what’s so good about the rookie program in the spring. You’re trying to set them up for success when they get to training camp and if there is no offseason and let’s just say, August is when they can come in, it is going to be harder for some of these guys, especially undrafted free agents, because there’s only so many reps and they’re going to miss a lot of these spring reps that they would normally get. So I think that is going to be league wide. It’ll be harder for some of these free agents to make it, but in the end, I know Sean and his staff will do as much as they can to get these guys up to speed and try and—we’re going to look for every competitive advantage we can to the other clubs.
Q: Were you able to pick a player at every position you needed? Was that a concerted effort?
A: Yeah, I mean truly I’m looking at my picks now just to think through each one in the process. I mean four of the seven were highest on the board. So it was an easy selection. And the other three were in the conversation. When you talk about our last pick, Dane Jackson, there were several players similar at different positions. And that was more, what do we think was going to have the best chance to make our roster? We felt that Dane and his skill set, might have that best chance. When we picked Tyler Bass there were a couple other guys at different positions that were there, but as I explained earlier, we just thought Tyler had a really good skill set and to add him versus what we might get in the free agent market, we just felt this was a stronger kicker to add to the competition. It truly was my goal, as you guys know, is to not have to draft for need and I know you guys don’t believe me, but I promise you, that’s the way it went down this board. We were just trying to take whatever players, I didn’t want to just draft guys here at the end that couldn’t make the roster. That becomes the question when you get later: which player, which position has the best chance to be on your 53 or at a minimum, you’re going to really want this guy on practice squad.
Q: How were the debates with scouts not being face-to-face? Was anyone willing to push the limits further?
A: No, there’s this button called mute (laughs). And then, if I needed to I muted them, but no they did a good job. They had a good feel for our board and we talked through it a lot. They knew where we had guys and what I would try and do is make sure we got five to six picks away, start going through. All right. Choice one if he’s on the board is this player, choice two would be this player and then at the same time, I’ve got that other Zoom going with Joe (Schoen), Dan (Morgan) and (Jim) Overdorf and Kevin Meganck. What is the trade market out there going in? Sometimes I’m doing it to, just updating both. And then, when we’re on the clock, making sure there’s no trade that’s just outstanding for us to move back. At that point where we couldn’t turn it down. Like I said there was, at one point, almost a really nice trade for us to get a pick in next year’s draft, a kind of a mid-round pick, but the team balked at it at the last minute. We would have moved back 10 to 11 spots.
Q: Do you feel like you have gotten the offense to the position where they can score more points?
A: I hope so. That was my effort and our team effort to do that. I’m a very self-critical person, so nobody doubts myself more than me sometimes with, ‘Did I do everything I could? Did I make the right moves?’ Lay awake at night thinking should I’ve done this or that or, there’ll be always things in the draft as they go, should we have been more aggressive to trade up or trade back, but live in the moment and try to do it. I think we have addressed some important things. Obviously getting Stefon Diggs was probably the biggest thing we did this offseason offensively. And I hope that will open up things for everybody, the tight ends, (Cole) Beasley, (John) Brown and the rest of our receivers. We’ve added some size guys. I think Zack Moss, a young physical bruiser with some competitive speed and can catch the ball. So, I like what we’ve added, but hopefully these players will prove that I know what I’m doing.
Q: How much did this draft call for a need for patience?
A: Yeah, patience is good until one of your guys goes and that’s where, one of the rounds that I said I was on with a GM, and it was I think three picks away a guy we had a really good grade on—I was a little bit bummed at the time that I didn’t get that guy. At the same time, I still thought we got a good player. It was like anything, you always question those things. But patience paid off more times than it didn’t and that’s the only time that it didn’t pay off. And those are the ones that you always say, ‘Man should I’ve done something different?’ But in the end, last night I might not have even had that pick if I had been able to to make a deal to move up for Moss. It probably balances out. Our guys did a good job of kind of feeling it out. The biggest thing you’re trying to do is what’s on the board? What are the teams in front of you? What have they already taken? Really tracking would they, if they have taken a running back, would they take another one here? That was part of what we were, the most excruciating round was the third round. We had such a good grade on Moss. That was a need, and it just seemed like forever before we got on clock.
Q: How much closer are you to fulfilling your objective of a deep and complete roster?
A: Yeah, I think we did add some more competition today because some of these guys definitely are not going to be starters, but they’re going to be competing to make that 53 and ideally they either make it or they push one of the guys is currently on our roster to work harder and to do everything they can to be the best version of themselves. So I’ve always believed and I’ve seen it, competition brings out the best. For me to make sure that that we’ve done that and we try to do that with our staff. I want the most competitive scouting staff, with the most competitive training staff and analytics staff. I mean all of us have to push each other. If we don’t, you get complacent and iron sharpens iron is a theory that I truly believe.
Q: Hey, Mr. Beane, first and foremost, congratulations on the excellent draft. But you did forget one team; the PR team. They did an outstanding job making sure that all those guys were in depth and you know it was very informational and kept us abreast on when we get the opportunity to speak to you guys. So, you know, good job to the PR team I appreciate you 100%. With this roster, how is it forcing players to play to, to their potential?
A: First of all, Muki, you forgot something on me thanking the PR staff. I drafted Jake Fromm from Georgia and Ms. Nicole [Hendricks] loves her Georgia Bulldogs, so she’s the first person I texted. When we got Fromm, so she’s representing the whole PR staff that was my thank you to them. So, you guys get that out there. But secondly, what was your question Muki, I got sidetracked. You rattled me when I forgot to thank them because you are spot on.
Q: How is this roster that you and coach McDermott put together are forcing players to play to their potential at this point.
A: Yeah, I mean, I think, as I was saying earlier, you know competition is just, it doesn’t mean that we’re down on somebody else, it means that we’re trying to bring the best out of each other, and we do that with, as I said with personnel, we change coaches, sports science, whatever we’re trying to do anybody that’s touching our football team; that’s our job to make it as competitive as it can and look for any advantage. And so the next thing you do is you try and make your roster as deep, because injuries happen too, we know that. And so even if some of these guys that we drafted or that we’ve added after the – maybe they don’t make the 53, but they’re right there and if we suffer an injury they’re ready to jump in if they’re on practice squad or even if it happens in training camp.
Q: Brandon, what do you prefer. Brandon Beane the burglar, or a Big Baller Beane bills mafia anything else?
A: Oh, I leave that up to you guys man I appreciate it, but I find all that stuff funny more than anything. I have a pretty good sense of humor. It’s really any of the success that we’ve had, you know it’s truly a group thing, and I understand the position I’m in when things work out or people think we make a good move. I get the credit, but there’s plenty of things I deserve blame for too, Matt.
Q: I wanted to ask you know most of it’s been covered, but you know it’s interesting with how much this roster has been built now there’s a couple guys that you know go back to when you guys started early on the process like Levi [Wallace] and Robert [Foster] and all these really cool stories that have come in and make contributions. To watch now the challenges that they have and other players, across the roster. What’s that feeling like it’s got to be kind of twofold where you know you’re glad that the team is doing so well but you know at the same time, there could be a situation where you have to say goodbye to somebody that, you know, doesn’t earn spot.
A: Yeah, I mean that’s the hard part of this business, and I always say, the day that we – that final roster cut down to the 53 late August early September right around Labor Day is painful, because you know we truly do care about our culture, we care about you know these people, we care about their families. You know Sean’s [McDermott] wife, my wife, you know, these guys are married or have serious girlfriends and they try and connect and that makes it harder. I know sometimes I’ll tell my wife “Hey, you know, we had to let such and such go today,” and she feels bad and tries to connect, but you know I’m paid and Sean’s paid and Terry [Pegula] and Kim [Pegula] pay us to win games. And so you do have to put personal feelings aside, but yeah I mean even drafting some of these guys. I don’t want to put people out of jobs, but we do have to make sure that we have the best 53, or I’m not doing our staff and coaches and our full staff their due. So that’s just the nature of the game unfortunately, Matt.
Q: Obviously, you only have seven picks you don’t have 17, but no linebacker. Where do you, where do you say feel you stand at backups to Tremaine [Edmunds] and Matt Milano.
A: Yeah, I mean, obviously we added A.J. Klein who can play inside can play outside. We got some young guys we have Corey Thompson coming back who’s had a little bit of experiences and started a couple games. Vosean [Joseph] was out last year with a shoulder. He’s beefed up some I think it’s going to help him, but we got a lot of young guys that are going to have to come in and compete. Tyler Matakevich, he’ll come in and compete as a backup to Tremaine. He’s probably going to be more inside position first. And a lot of these guys, [Tyrel] Dodson’s, probably inside first over outside. I’d say Vosean’s gonna be outside first, but we’re trying to make them as versatile as possible. I think that helps and Del’Shawn Phillips, you know, he would be an outside backer. I’m probably leaving somebody out and I got so many names in my head from this draft, but we do have a lot of open competition behind those starters, those first three. It’ll be interesting to see, the cream rise to the top. We got some young guys that have some talent. Now it’s going to be, who takes on the challenge and kind of that refuse to lose attitude.
Q: Just what I said last night and this hope for so many things, but the proof is in the pudding. But how would you characterize how this draft went in terms of your executives going into it, who you’re able to select, I guess at this point how satisfied are you with how this draft went.
A: Yeah, I mean I thought I thought it felt pretty good for us. You never know it’s so hard to predict Adam, it really is. I can sit here and mock all day long, which we did, but we didn’t – we went through the third round a couple times. We didn’t end up with who we ended up with in our mocks. It’s just, it’s so hard to predict, but I really thought the board, you know, we never had to – this is always your biggest fear. You never have in the first round you don’t have 32 first round grades or the second or third, and so you’re always trying to hope you’re not digging. If you got a first-round pick digging in second. Or you’re in second going into your third. It got close a couple times, it did. But in the end, I thought our board set up pretty well. I thought some guys fell to us that had pretty good value. Even today, like I, I really couldn’t have told you how it was gonna play out, it just they didn’t and I like what we’ve added. And I think competition is the word that I would walk away with today if I were you guys.
Q: You talked about how the draft kind of gave you something to focus on and you know, look forward to as we got through this crisis. Now that the drafts over, the NFL kind of joins the rest of the sports world, not knowing what’s next. Have you thought about you know kind of what the plan is now? What do you do now? How do you treat tomorrow and going forward?
A: Yeah, so we’ll start working on getting these rookies transitioned. We work behind the scenes to line up physicals and things like that. You know usually you’re gonna fly these guys in in a couple weeks so there’s some – free agency was not easy. It took us some time to you know to get most of these guys in and work through that, so that process is out there. Still be meeting at different times with various departments and checking in. Been having some meetings on how the virtual stuff’s going with the coaches. What players are there, who’s doing well, who’s showing leadership of doing things on their own. From our players getting guys to do things, you know, it’s just players without coaches being involved and so really just trying to – we’ll catch up with our support staff and I’ll talk to you know our sports science and our medical people and our strength staff. I’ll educate them on who these new players are the best that I can on what they’re going to be dealing with, and obviously, as they get to know them, you know they’ll give me feedback on how they’re transitioning to being a pro. And so, we still got a lot of work to do, but we also got to keep an eye on and tabs on what the world – what’s going on and, is there an end in sight to where we could possibly bring them in May or June, or is it gonna be next step of thinking about August, in some type of training camp. But other than that try and wipe the clubs down, get them re-gripped and hopefully hit the links here soon.
Q: So, now that your vision for the offseason is complete to where you added a lot of pieces to the defensive line with [Vernon] Butler, [Mario] Addison, [Quinton] Jefferson and of course, A.J. [Epenesa] yesterday. The first few years you guys were really just kind of standard defensive end, defensive tackle everybody kind of had a role, but this adding guys with versatility this year so I was curious as to what the vision is for what you’re trying to do along the defensive line, and how you envision this whole thing kind of going into 2020.
A: Yeah, competition and versatility is probably the two words I would say up front. We got experience as well. Jerry Hughes, he had a couple surgeries and ceiling up, by all accounts nicely, in Houston and we add Mario Addison and we had Trent Murphy, and those guys on the outside, Darryl’s [Johnson] back and we’ve added Epenesa just inside with Jefferson, Butler, Star [Lotulelei] and Harrison’s [Phillips] coming back from the ACL and we got some other young guys in there. So, it’s really just gonna be a competition, I think, and as I said yesterday is super important to be very strong up front. And so, I like some of these pieces that, you know, I think, Mario could play on the right and the left. I would think, Epenesa is going to be more of a, as I said yesterday, a lefty and for us that can reduce down. Mario can go inside. Trent’s going to be still you know the lefty end, but he can go inside. I think Jefferson can go inside and can go outside. Vernon can play a one or a three. So, as many guys as you can get just like on the o-line that can play more than one spot does help us. You know we like to rotate eight-nine guys in the game. Not every team does it that way that’s just, that’s our style.
Q: Dane Jackson mostly played, or he played outside at Pitt. Do you look at him as more as a nickel because that’s kind of the type-a arm length that you guys usually like there?
A: No, I think, I think he can do it, but I think his position one is still outside. We’ll test some of that when we get here. We do like versatility and that was one of the things we said was, we would like to either in free agency if we didn’t have one in the draft, but he was here and that was part of the decision with that. We thought he was an outside guy, but potentially he hasn’t done it much so part of that’s a feel in there. He’ll definitely get the opportunity to compete inside.
Q: Tying in Brandon to the what’s next questions that you’ve been asked by a couple of guys, especially with the draft picks. How much in making the choices you made was, and this ties in also to the kind of character profile you have for players. How much Brandon did the thought that you’re going to have to trust these young guys who’ve never been part of this NFL thing before to probably take responsibility right, a lot of it on their own, on the assumption that this offseason isn’t going to allow them, allow you to get your arms around them so to speak and be in Orchard Park. So did that drive some thinking in terms of the types of the makeup of these guys that you grabbed?
A: It did. We still – I’m not gonna say we adjusted the board for it, or anything like that, but you know I did feel we got some professionals, and some guys you know that are marked in bills blue. So, you know, some of these picks were that and I know three right now, of our undrafted guys – and that’s important. That’s one of the things I did say to the scouts. The undrafted guys, the best guys that can make it are guys that are going to be healthy, and are smart, tough, dependable type people. And so I know already three of the guys that that we pretty much agreed to after the draft fit that DNA, and I think that gives them the best chance. So that was a major conversation for us with these later picks, and then the guys we’re signing. I wouldn’t say it was as much in the conversation of, you know yesterday’s fix.