Perhaps the most popular early criticism of the Buffalo Bills’ 2020 NFL Draft haul is that many of the players lack elite athletic traits. The team’s seven draft picks didn’t really light the world on fire during the NFL Combine—none finished within the top five of their position in any testing event. However, that doesn’t really matter to general manager Brandon Beane.
During a post-draft interview with several members of the media, Beane revealed that his philosophy with the team’s second day draft picks—A.J. Epenesa and Zack Moss—is that game tape is the ultimate authority that guides his decision-making process.
“Obviously Epenesa, you’ve seen his production,” said Beane. “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.”
Beane then went on to float the idea that occasionally certain prospects have “game” or “play speed,” which is to say that they perform better on the playing field than, say, at the NFL Combine or at Pro Days.
“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 passing game he was more of a kind of a flare out or screen guy. His hands are fine he just wasn’t used...And then Epenesa...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.”
While not all of the team’s previous years’ draft picks can be described as poor athletes—just look at Ed Oliver or Tremaine Edmunds—it does Buffalo’s general manager great credit that he won’t let himself be swayed by a few poor testing numbers recorded in shorts over in Indianapolis. Devin Singletary had a poor combine but Beane mentioned how much fun he was to watch on tape, and that translated during the running back’s first year in the NFL.