The vast majority of the success for the Buffalo Bills over the last four to five seasons can be directly appointed to one thing—winning the NFL Draft. According to last night’s Monday Night Football broadcast, the Bills might be doing the draft better than everyone.
The Bills have the most starts by players they selected of any NFL team since 2017—that’s 688 cumulative starts. That 2017 Draft included key cornerstones in cornerback Tre’Davious White, left tackle Dion Dawkins, and linebacker Matt Milano. Wide receiver Zay Jones was another player who played a lot of snaps as a rookie and continues to have success in the NFL.
Quarterback Josh Allen, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and defensive back Taron Johnson were 2018 picks who are still finding great success with the team that drafted them.
One common denominator can link why the Bills lead in this key statistic—hitting on Day 3 picks. Milano and Johnson, a fourth and a fifth-rounder respectively, were both unheralded prospects who quickly found time on the field for the Bills and are now both on a second contract with a team. Wide receiver Gabriel Davis (fourth round) and cornerback Dane Jackson (seventh round) didn’t start much as rookies, but they were rotational or key depth pieces early on.
This year—it’s been a sixth-round pick, cornerback Christian Benford, making noise with the number of snaps he’s already accumulated. He and first-round cornerback Kaiir Elam will have to hold down the cornerback spots until one of Tre’Davious White or Dane Jackson return from injury.
The Bills do an excellent job of getting their rookies ready to play right away through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and training camp. Success in the NFL is almost always had when you can draft your own, develop, and be the team to extend them on their second contract. With Josh Allen’s bank-breaking deal starting to kick into full gear in 2023, it’s important general manager Brandon Beane and the organization continue to keep hitting on affordable rookie deals.