The Buffalo Bills hired Brandon Beane to be their general manager on May 9, 2017—a mere ten days after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft. Beane has not been conservative in his first gig as an NFL GM. Instead, Beane has continuously made big moves, showing that he’ll make sure that he acquires the players he wants—even if it means that he has to trade his draft picks.
While Beane’s predecessor in Buffalo, Doug Whaley, didn’t shy away from making trades that involved draft picks, Beane has taken the draft pick trade to extremes in his tenure at the helm of the Bills. With Beane set to lead the Bills in his fourth draft, now is a good time to take a walk back in time to look at all of the draft-pick trades the Bills have made over the last three years.
The Bills had two first-round picks in this draft thanks to a trade-down the year prior, so Buffalo held the No. 21 and No. 22 choices in the draft. Between the preseason and the trading deadline in 2017, Beane made three trades that involved draft picks: He sent the Bills’ sixth-round choice and wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and the Rams’ second-round pick. He also dealt cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and the Eagles’ third-round pick. Beane traded linebacker Reggie Ragland to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a fourth-round pick. He also traded quarterback Cardale Jones to the Los Angeles Chargers for a seventh-round choice. Beane dealt defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional sixth-round choice that became a fifth-round choice due to Dareus remaining on the Jaguars’ roster for what remained of the 2017 season after the trade. Finally, Beane sent Buffalo’s own third-round choice, as well as the seventh-rounder acquired in the Jones deal, to the Carolina Panthers for wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. That’s an awful lot of trades under the 2018 banner that actually took place before the 2018 NFL Draft!
In the lead-up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Beane went to work. Here’s the combination of deals that landed the Bills quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds:
- Traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns for a third-round choice
- Traded tackle Cordy Glenn, pick No. 21 overall, and a fifth-round choice to the Cincinnati Bengals for pick No. 12 overall and a sixth-round choice
- Traded pick No. 12, 53, and 56 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for pick No. 7 (Allen) and pick No. 255
- Traded pick No. 22 and No. 65 to the Baltimore Ravens for pick No. 16 (Edmunds) and pick No. 154
The only player that Buffalo selected in the 2018 NFL Draft with a pick that was originally their own was cornerback Taron Johnson, whom they selected at No. 121 overall. They chose guard Wyatt Teller with the pick acquired for Dareus. They chose defensive tackle Harrison Phillips with the pick acquired for Darby. Safety Siran Neal was the second pick from Baltimore.
Beane knew he needed a franchise quarterback, and he identified Allen as that guy. He made sure to do everything in his power to make Allen a Buffalo Bill, as evidenced by the crazy number of trades it took to procure him.
The first draft-choice trade for the 2019 NFL Draft was a veteran flip at the end of the 2018 preseason, as the Bills traded quarterback A.J. McCarron to the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders for a fifth-round choice. In September 2018, the Bills traded tackle Marshall Newhouse to the Panthers for a conditional draft choice.
This time around, Beane had some moves to make, but he didn’t do anything nearly as crazy as he did in 2018. The Bills moved up two spots in the second round, trading pick No. 40 and pick No. 158 to the Raiders for pick No. 38, which they used to select guard Cody Ford. Buffalo then sent both its fourth-round picks (No. 113 and No. 132) to the Washington Football Team for choice No. 96, which the Bills used on tight end Dawson Knox.
As has been Beane’s modus operandi, the Bills’ GM flipped two reserve offensive linemen for draft picks at the end of the preseason. He traded center Russell Bodine to the New England Patriots for a sixth-round choice, and then he made a rare misfire by trading Wyatt Teller to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the Browns’ fifth- and sixth-round picks. The Bills also sent Cleveland a seventh-round choice in that trade. Buffalo was down a seventh-round pick anyway in this draft since they had traded it to the Browns years prior for wide receiver Corey Coleman.
Beane then pulled off a blockbuster move, sending Buffalo’s first, fifth, and sixth-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings for star wide receiver Stefon Diggs and a seventh-round choice (which became cornerback Dane Jackson). Beane chose kicker Tyler Bass with one of the two choices acquired for Teller.
While the Bills have only chosen in their allotted first-round draft slot once during the Beane regime, picking defensive tackle Ed Oliver No. 9 overall in 2019, the team has used its draft assets wisely in ensuring that they acquire the players they want. Will the Bills stay at No. 30 this year, or will they use later-round picks to move up if a player they covet begins to fall a bit? History suggests that we shouldn’t expect the Bills to draft in the spot where they start.