During Brandon Beane’s season-ending presser—one that lasted more than an hour—the Buffalo Bills general manager was remarkably unreserved on several topics, including his desires for the team, free-agency plans, and his heartbreak at once again losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. One area that Beane addressed when prompted was the state of the team’s 2021 NFL Draft Class, providing quick reviews of the first three selections, along with safety Damar Hamlin.
Regarding first-round pick Gregory Rousseau, Beane told the assembled reporters that he was very impressed with how the rookie defensive end was able to start and finish such a long season after opting out of his final season in college due to COVID-19. He did admit that Rousseau “probably, definitely hit the rookie wall” during the middle of the season, but was able to finish strong and will be a really good player for the team.
Rousseau finished second on the team with both four sacks and ten QB hits in addition to a forced fumble, four passes defended, 50 tackles, and an improbable interception. He played 49.26% of the team’s season-long defensive stats.
In discussing Rousseau’s running-mate Boogie Basham, Beane revealed that his lack of playing time was a result of the numbers game at the defensive end position, and the team’s desire to rely on their veterans. He did admit that the offseason will be important for the rookie, as Beane stated that Basham should be “expecting to compete for a starting job.”
Basham played in half of Buffalo’s games this year, tallying 2.5 sacks and 18 tackles. He played 18.65% of the team’s defensive snaps on the season.
Beane then moved on to Spencer Brown, stating that the rookie tackle had some strong games for the team. He admitted that the plan was for Brown to be a right tackle, but he was forced into the left tackle spot due to injuries. Similar to Rousseau, Beane said he expects big things from Brown moving forward as the team’s starter.
Brown started ten games for the Bills (it would have been more had he not missed three weeks with COVID) plus the two playoff games.
Finally mentioning two of the team’s Day 3 selections in Tommy Doyle and Damar Hamlin, Beane stated that Doyle “probably made one of the biggest jumps from where he was when we ended camp, to helping us down the stretch.” For Hamlin, the general manager thinks he “has a legit chance” and that the safety will “really push Jaquan [Johnson]…and will play in this league for a while”.
Hamlin played 28.8% of the team’s special teams snaps but only logged 4.64% of the defensive snaps during the season. Doyle carved out a niche as the team’s final sixth man on the offensive line following injury, and played 5.43% of the total snaps on the season. He added 10.14% of the special teams snaps and one incredibly unlikely touchdown against the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round.
Beane didn’t mention Marquez Stevenson, who earned, then relinquished, the returner job during the season. He played five games with 14 punt returns for 132 yards and two fumbles. He also returned seven kickoffs for 165 yards.
Rachad Wildgoose, the final sixth-round selection, and seventh-rounder Jack Anderson were signed off the team’s practice squad during the season.