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2022 NFL Draft: Bills continued prioritizing youth in first round

Brandon Beane doesn’t like to draft older players with top picks

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills know the value of their top picks. When they pull the trigger on a first-round pick, they are always on the younger side of the scale, even if they have multiple collegiate seasons.

General manager Brandon Beane has continuously gone to the younger side of the coin on Thursday nights.

  • 2022: Kaiir Elam (20)
  • 2021: Gregory Rousseau (21)
  • 2020: A.J. Epenesa (21) (Second round)
  • 2019: Ed Oliver (21)
  • 2018: Josh Allen (21) and Tremaine Edmunds (19)

While these players may not have four or five years of extensive college experience, they will have more years in the pros as a result, theoretically. Instead of drafting a guy who turns 24 in his rookie season and signs his second contract that will take him well into his 30s, the Bills are using the young 20s for the rookie deals, then extending players for their athletic prime in their late 20s.

Once we get into the second rounds and later, Beane has shown he will use picks on older players. Boogie Basham was 23 when picked and turned 24 during his rookie season. James Cook will turn 23 in September. Cody Ford turned 23 in his rookie campaign.

It’s something to look at next winter as we begin building out draft boards, at least. (It was also a little bit funny that when Josh Allen took Elam to the Buffalo Sabres games the weekend he was drafted, the Bills’ newest cornerback couldn’t have a beer in the owner’s box.)