The Buffalo Bills have analyzed recent NFL Drafts, and in 2022 they made an adjustment to their big board to reflect that research. In 2021, they missed out on a cornerback, consistently being outbid by other teams in a pass-and-stop-the-pass mentality. To that end, they moved cornerbacks up their big board based on their tendency to routinely get picked higher than Buffalo thought.
“You work hard to get your value right, but that’s one of those positions we talked about as a staff that if you look back historically, we were looking at some of the names that were gone in the first round, in the second round, and early in the third. Some of these guys that got taken, we weren’t necessarily as high on. The guys we really want, we’d better put them up here because they’re gonna go,” said Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane following the Draft, making a gesture with his hand to show them rising up the board. “On [Day 2] at the start of the second round, we debated over this guy and look, he already went.”
Noting that the cornerback position was their top point of emphasis heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, Beane also told reporters he slept a little bit better after the first night, knowing he had his cornerback (even if he didn’t sleep much that night). Nine corners went in the first two rounds while another three went before Buffalo’s pick in the third round.
“We definitely use history for positions and corner was obviously one going back,” said Beane on One Bills Live the Monday after the Draft. “We had done a similar thing when I was in Carolina when we were looking at corners. One year we wanted and they all went and we’re like, man, we might be grading them too hard. Every time we’re getting up—and last year [in 2021] that felt like it was happening—or [teams] like receivers and there’s this run on them and I think you saw that again at corner.”
The reason cornerback was the highest position on their board is they wanted a person to come in right away. He didn’t get into specifics on whether that had more to do with Dane Jackson not playing well enough for them, Tre’Davious White’s injury, or some other reason.
“We spent the last couple of weeks when we got into the corner conversations coming into the Draft that [the] first few rounds we’d like to get one because you get lower than there, you’re [wondering] how much can you count on Year 1 and we wanted to have somebody [contribute] Year 1. So we really started looking and kind of going through the names of the last three or four drafts where these guys were going,” said Beane.
Thought he didn’t mention that specifically, that could have also contributed to his willingness to trade up. As soon as he went from two draftable first-round cornerbacks to one, he started making calls. When he couldn’t get up to 22, he traded up to 23 instead.
Growth mindset and learning from mistakes is great. Missing on cornerbacks because you may have graded them a little low in the past is only a mistake if you never correct it, and the Bills were intent on making it right in 2022.