With a quiet free agency where the Buffalo Bills prioritized re-signing their own, and a largely uneventful draft, the 2021 roster very much resembles last year’s. General manager Brandon Beane already oversaw one of the more complete teams in the NFL, so most of what he could do this offseason involved building out the depth and improving in at least a couple key areas. Now that the Bills’ GM has had at least four drafts under his belt with the team, let’s explore the roster to see which colleges and conferences Beane and the rest of the team’s front office appear to prefer.
Last year, it was evident that both head coach Sean McDermott and Beane liked to acquire players hailing from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). At the time, 22 percent of the team’s roster came from the SEC. That number has shrunk this year to 13 percent (11 players), with the most popular conference becoming the ACC with 17 percent of the roster (15 players) hailing from that conference. The most popular schools in that conference? Miami and North Carolina are tied with three players each. Miami clearly received a boost this year, thanks to the additions of draft picks Gregory Rousseau.
The second-most popular conference is the aforementioned SEC with 11 players (13 percent) on the roster. LSU and Florida lead the pack there with two players each, which is not much of trend. The PAC-12 follows closely behind, with ten players (11 percent). The other two Power Five conferences include the Big Ten with eight players and the Big-12 with just four players.
While 44 of the 87 players hail from the Power Five conferences, the rest (49 percent) are from smaller schools outside of the Power Five—a high percentage that has risen year-over-year. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) is the most popular smaller conference, with eight players represented on the Bills’ roster—its most prominent alumni being defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Included in the small-school total are three players from the FCS ranks as well as two from Division II colleges (Tyrell Adams, Justin Zimmer). The front office has continued their trend of accumulating small-school prospects.