One of my favorite post-NFL Draft exercises is to carefully watch the video features published on the Buffalo Bills' official team website for novel information about the team's decision-making process. In the past, we've learned very curious details, such as how the Bills were attempting to trade up for Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde in 2014 (only to miss out, and trade for Bryce Brown the next day).
This year's written report, penned by Chris Brown, doesn't have anything quite that revealing, but it confirms a detail that a few of the writers closely following Buffalo before the draft had been eyeing - their affinity for Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed.
In the first round, Buffalo had a couple names on their draft board, but Clemson edge rusher Shaq Lawson was in a tier above them. As Jim Monos put it, "We were thinking he would be gone." In a draft-day interview with Brown, Doug Whaley mentioned that the team had a cluster of about three players they were targeting in the first round, but Brown's post-draft article clarifies that Lawson wasn't among those names. The team fielded calls from Denver and Dallas, but stayed put at No. 19 when neither team was willing to offer up a future first-round pick as payment.
One of the players who was in Buffalo's round one cluster was linebacker Reggie Ragland. Despite Whaley's attempts to damn him with faint praise by calling him a "potential three-down linebacker" at the team's pre-draft luncheon (remember, Su'a Cravens was labelled a "four-down linebacker" at the same event), the team was very much interested in adding the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Even at the end of the first round, the Bills were already inquiring about the cost to trade up for Ragland. With no suitable trading partners, the team decided on Thursday night that they would prioritize trading up for Ragland on the second day of the draft.
As we now know, the Bills were able to line up a trade with the Chicago Bears. One interesting note about the trade: it was consummated before the previous team (the New York Giants) had made their selection. Ragland wasn't the only available player the Bills had a first-round grade on, and they were comfortable taking either one. When both players were available, they took their preferred choice, the linebacker. In case you were wondering, linebacker Myles Jack does not appear to have been a target for the team at all, given the way they talked about him relative to the other players among consideration.
A second article by Brown has more to know about that other player in discussion for the No. 41 overall selection. Reed was another member of that first-round cluster who had fallen in the draft, and having picked up two first-round targets already, the team was wondering what it would cost to add a third. That said, the team didn't have much available - a third and a fifth, perhaps, in this year's draft, and maybe a third in next year's draft. Having already traded away two picks, it would have been difficult to justify trading away two or three more. That didn't stop them from making calls, mostly to teams picking in the last dozen picks of the second round.
Ultimately, it didn't matter what those trade negotiations developed, because Reed went to the Seattle Seahawks with Buffalo's original second-round pick, a small piece of serendipity.