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2020 NFL Draft: Projecting a third-round trade up for the Buffalo Bills

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Brandon Beane loves to move.

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has been known to trade up the draft board. He hasn’t moved with his third-round picks, though, instead opting to stay put and selecting RB Devin Singletary (2019) and DT Harrison Phillips (2018). (He did use another 2018 third-round pick in the trade for WR Kelvin Benjamin, but that was before the draft.)

It may be that players tend to cluster in the third round for Beane, and he’s happy adding a solid player at a number of positions and doesn’t feel the need to move up for a falling player at a position of need. That’s his M.O. in the first and second rounds, and even in the back end of the third round where he traded up for TE Dawson Knox a year ago.

This year could be different. With ammunition at the back end of the 2020 NFL Draft and not many open roster slots, the players he might pick there are less valuable than landing a guy who has a major chance to contribute. If you spend a sixth-round pick on a guy you’re going to cut at the end of August, wouldn’t it make more sense to use it to move up and get the third-rounder you really want?

Here’s how the Bills could maneuver up in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft by adding one of their current picks:

  • Pick 86 (third) plus pick 128 (fourth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 71.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus pick 167 (fifth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 79.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus pick 188 (sixth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 82.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus pick 201 (sixth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 83.

If they instead choose to package a few late-round picks, Buffalo could swing up a little bit further:

  • Pick 86 (third) plus both sixth rounders would get Buffalo approximately to pick 78/79.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus 167 (fifth) and 201 (sixth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 76/77.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus 167 (fifth) and 188 (sixth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 75/76.
  • Pick 86 (third) plus 128 (fourth) plus 167 (fifth) would get Buffalo approximately to pick 66.

That last trade seems a bit too high, as it lessens their ability to move up in the fourth round for a player who can still contribute almost immediately and develop into a long-term answer somewhere. You’re gutting the best chance of landing a young contributor.

I’d anticipate Buffalo holding onto the fourth-round pick, which puts pick 75 as the highest they could likely get. That makes a lot of sense in a realistic trade-up scenario for a player with a second-round grade falling into the middle of the third. If a player at a position of need (wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher, or guard) has a second-round grade and is falling, it’s a move Beane is likely to make.

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