In an earlier article, B.J. Monacelli reviewed several prospects who I believe the Buffalo Bills should consider in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft later tonight. While no one knows who among those players will be available to draft, each of them possesses talents that should help improve the Bills’ fortunes moving forward.
But is it set in stone that Buffalo remains at pick 27 in the first round? Will general manager Brandon Beane instead find a reason to move up for a player like wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, or maneuver down to find better value and picks while trying to land their preferred prospect (such as linebacker Drew Sanders or wide receiver Jordan Addison)?
We’ll learn all this and more once Buffalo turns in their card to NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell. But for now, all we can do is consider Brandon Beane’s first-round history in five drafts as GM of the Bills. Do those moves tell us anything?
Below, B.J. lays out all the moves Beane has made in five season’s running the Buffalo Bills’ draft room. What should we expect to happen tonight? Read on to find out!
Do Bills trade up, trade down, or stay put?
GM Brandon Beane’s history of first-round trades
This will be Beane’s sixth draft with the Bills. In his previous five drafts Beane has made some sort of trade with a first-round pick in three of those drafts. Let’s review:
* indicates a trade made during the NFL Draft
- The Bills at one point held the 21st (original pick) and 22nd overall pick (received in the 2017 NFL Draft trade with the Kansas City Chiefs to move down from pick 10 to pick 27).
- Traded Cordy Glenn, 2018 first-round pick (21st overall), and 2018 fifth-round pick (158th overall) to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for 2018 first-round pick (12th overall) and 2018 six-round pick (187th overall).
- Traded 2018 first-round pick (12th overall), 2018 second-round pick (53rd overall), and 2018 second-round pick (56th overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for 2018 first-round pick (7th overall — Josh Allen). *
- Traded 2018 first-round pick (22nd overall), 2018 third-round pick (65th overall), and 2018 fifth-round pick (154th overall) to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for 2018 first-round pick (16th overall — Tremaine Edmunds). *
- Traded 2020 first-round pick (22nd overall), 2022 fifth-round pick (155th overall), and 2020 sixth-round pick (201st overall) to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Stefon Diggs and 2020 seventh-round pick (239th overall — Dane Jackson).
- Traded 2022 first-round pick (25th overall) and 2022 fourth-round pick (130th overall) to the Ravens in exchange for 2022 first-round pick (23rd overall — Kaiir Elam). *
2023 trade-up in 1st round scenarios
There would only be two reasons I would trade up for in the first round if I were the Bills:
Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba falls to pick 20. As you may know by now, JSN is number one on my wish list for the Bills. It’s doubtful he will fall even close to pick 27, but if he makes it into the 20s I would trade up for him in an instant — heck I would even dabble in trade talks with teams in the teens to see if I could move up for JSN.
If Beane’s last “first-round graded player” is available at pick 25. Similar to last year's move-up for Kaiir Elam, I wouldn’t mind trading up a couple of spots to grab a player they have graded highly. This would likely mean they give up a fourth-round pick (130 overall), which in return would mean they would be looking to trade back on Day 2 to recoup some picks.
2023 Round 1 trade-down scenarios
If the Bills aren’t fortunate enough to have one of their first-round graded players fall to them at pick 27, a trade-down would be nice, but it takes two to tango and it isn’t always a given they will find a trade partner willing to dance. Ideally, a team falls in love with a quarterback like Hendon Hooker and wants to trade up from the second round to draft him at the end of the first round. It’s also a possibility that Buffalo doesn’t want to lose the fifth-year option benefit that comes with a first-round pick, and they would rather only trade back a couple of spots to recoup some draft capital (they only have six picks).
A team at the top of the second round falls in love with a player that is still available at pick 27 (likely a QB like Hendon Hooker, but it could be anybody). Some possible teams could be: Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, or Seattle Seahawks. If the Bills were to move out of the first round, ideally they would receive an early second-round pick and third-round pick in return.
A team a few picks behind the Bills in the first round wants to move up to make sure they land a player they desire. There aren’t many options here as only the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and Chiefs pick behind the Bills in the first round. In this scenario, the Bills would move back a few spots in return for a fourth-round pick.
2023 “stay put” Round 1 scenarios
Ideally, a player the Buffalo Bills have a first-round grade on falls to them at pick 27. In the event this doesn’t happen, it still doesn’t mean their pick had “bad value.” If the trade-up options are too expensive and the trade-down options are of low compensation, then the Bills should just take the best player available at 27. Even if they have a second-round grade on a player they pick at 27, they ensure they get the player they wanted and also get an added bonus of a potential fifth-year option for that player to remain on their roster. Players who fit this bill (pun intended) for me are: wide receiver Josh Downs, offensive tackle Anton Harrison, linebacker Drew Sanders, safety Brian Branch, or defensive end Will McDonald IV.
2023 Wild Card Scenarios
The Bills trading for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins would shake up their draft plans. The rumors are raging again and there is potential that a deal gets done before the draft. If the trade does happen, it certainly takes the pressure off the Bills to take a receiver early. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Bills would take the position off their board. When their pick comes, if the best player available on their board is a receiver they should still invest in one, whether that's on Day 1, 2, or 3. If a trade is made for Hopkins, I would expect it to get done before the draft even though we did see two wide receivers get traded during the 2022 NFL draft (A.J. Brown and Hollywood Brown). I’m not sure what the trade package would consist of, but my guess is it would be something of equal value to a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
In five seasons, Brandon Beane has shown a commitment to pursuing those players he thinks best-fit the systems in place by the Buffalo Bills. What’s clear from B.J.’s analysis here is that anything’s possible, and Bills Mafia shouldn’t automatically expect news about Buffalo’s pick to come at pick 27. Should Beane find reason to move up or back tonight, it will be the result of careful decision-making toward bringing the best prospect to One Bills Drive.