Recapping Bills’ First Round Picks

Photo of Bills QB Josh Allen from buffalonews.com.

Well, that was…. interesting. After months of speculation regarding what the Bills would do in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, fans got their answer last night.

Debate and discord ran rampant leading up to Thursday evening, mostly regarding the quarterback position. Supporters in Buffalo sat on pins and needles as the first round wore on with Baker Mayfield (first overall to Cleveland) and Sam Darnold (third overall to the Jets), off the board. Finally, the Bills made a long awaited trade up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buffalo received Tampa Bay’s seventh overall pick in exchange for the 12th overall selection and both of the Bills second rounders this year.

With Josh Allen and Josh Rosen still available, the team would soon reveal their next franchise prospect under center. Though the vocal majority certainly would have preferred the Bills opt for the UCLA product in Rosen, to their general dismay, the organization instead opted for a very raw developmental option from Wyoming in Allen.

With a completion percentage of just over 56-percent in his two years as the starter with Wyoming, Allen will have to defy all odds in order to develop into a player worthy of the price tag and draft position. While anything is possible, the situation doesn’t appear particularly promising.

Photo of QB Brett Favre from si.com.

Sure, statistical outliers like Brett Favre have been able to forge successful careers after struggling with accuracy in college but most of the time, it’s not really something that suddenly gets better at the professional level. In terms of strengths, Allen does boast a cannon for an arm, though he posted an abysmal completion percentage of 14.5 on passes over 40 yards in college.

So, where does the team go from here? Considering just how much work Allen will need in order to take the reigns as the starting signal-caller, there is a decent chance Sean McDermott will allow A.J. McCarron to start this coming season while the rookie holds a clipboard. Naturally, fans wanted to see the franchise go and get a more NFL-ready option, however, Brandon Beane and company had other plans.

One of the most concerning aspects of this pick is just how many “insiders” were aware of the fact that the Bills coveted Allen in the weeks leading up to the draft. Fans were under the impression that Beane ran a “tighter ship” than his predecessors, who’s moves were always known ahead of time, however it appears as though the loose lips haven’t been silenced. It is a glaring indictment of the current regime’s ability to keep things under wraps.

At the end of the day, there is something about Allen’s situation that the Buffalo faithful can appreciate. He’s an underdog. A staggering majority of people expect him to fail. The people of Western New York love those who overcome the odds, and succeed despite nobody believing in them.

Cliches aside, Beane and the rest of the Bills executives have taken a huge risk here. The “process” theme bought them a great deal of goodwill in their inaugural season, however that support will dwindle as quickly as it appeared if Allen falters, and pushes the team further into quarterback purgatory and general obscurity.

Photo of Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds from medium.com.

In an unexpected turn of events, the Bills actually traded up for a second time in the first round, giving up the 22nd overall selection and a 2018 third-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for the 16th overall pick and a 2018 fifth rounder. They used their newly acquired first round position to fill a glaring need at linebacker, selecting Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech.

At just 19-years-old (turning 20 in less than a week), Edmunds is a relatively raw prospect who has elite potential. Last season with the Hokies, he posted 108 total tackles, and 5.5 sacks. DraftTek had him ranked as the ninth overall player in the entire draft, so in reality, the Bills got themselves a steal in the middle of the first.

Not only is he a phenomenal athlete who uses lateral quickness to cut the field, he can also fill in as a pass rusher, which the organization desperately needed behind their run-stuffing defensive line. According Lance Zierlein at NFL.com, the versatile linebacker’s playing style compares to hall-of-famer, Brian Urlacher. Not too shabby.

According to various scouts, Edmunds is consistently criticized for his difficulty analyzing and diagnosing plays, often utilizing his supreme athleticism to make up for occasional mental gaffes. A the NFL level, defenders simply cannot rely solely on their athletic gifts to find success. Everyone in the league is a great athlete, and those players are often exposed if they can’t keep up from a cerebral standpoint (See Aaron Maybin).

Overall, fans will just have to buckle up and hope that these guys turn out the way Beane thinks they will, particularly Allen. In what was quite possibly the most important and intriguing first round in the last decade, Bills fans are left with mixed emotions, to say the least. Allen holds Beane’s and by extension, McDermott’s fate in Buffalo in the palm of his hand. If he emerges as “the guy” they will be lauded ad geniuses for believing in him when so many others didn’t. Should he fail, Terry Pegula will be looking for a new GM and coach tandem in a few years.

Stay tuned.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Anthony Sciandra for recapping the insane first round of the draft. You can find Anthony on Twitter @SciandraSports.

*Views are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the owners of the BillsMafia.com website.

About Anthony Sciandra

I'm a passionate Buffalo sports fan, former amateur pugilist, and UB alum. Born and raised in Western New York.

18 Replies to “Recapping Bills’ First Round Picks”

  1. Nice work, Anthony. On the money.

    I’m gutted. All those months of lead up and and anticipation…all those picks collected and they do the one move I hated. I guess on the bright side, they could have given up more to move up higher to take the same bum…but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the pick itself. I heard on WGR leading up to the draft, it said if Allen pans out as a great player, it will go against every analytics argument there is. So go ahead, Josh…prove everything wrong.

    On the topic of leaks, I heard an interesting theory. They said you leak your backup plan so if your plan A falls through, you can say your plan B was everything you wanted all along…and if your plan A comes through, you brush off the leak as rumored nonsense. Dunno how much I buy it…dunno that I care to be honest. All I know is MY plan A that was all perfectly set up went down the toilet in favor of my ‘anyone but this guy’ plan. But I should expect it…and I did. The Bills have always done nothing but disappoint me. Why would I expect anything different last night? I find myself struggling with why I continue to stick with this team that brings me no joy. Some sense of loyalty, which is really stupid because I’m not from Buffalo and have never even been there. Just loyalty to the team I (poorly) chose to be mine once upon a time. Yes, I’m taking all this pretty hard…and oversharing. Sorry.

  2. Bada Boom….

    I liked Allen from the git-go and I’m happy they took him, Rosen will be better at first but I still say in the long run Allen will end up better… Will the fans give Allen a chance to develop or will they label him trash/garbage/bust because he isn’t a star right away… They signed AJ and still have Peterman who is learning so it is about the future not the present for Allen. They gave up their number 2’s to move up, they didn’t have to give up their other #1 and nothing for next year.

    Edmunds was another excellent move moving up to take one of the top LB’s in the draft for a #3 that they acquired from Cleveland. The also received the Ravens 5th in that trade…

    The Bills have these picks left:

    3–32 – 96***Eagles
    4–21– 121 Their own
    5–17–154**Ravens
    5–29–166****Jags
    6–13–187****Bengals
    7–37– 255**** Bucs

    They still have needs OL, WR, LB, CB, TE another interesting couple of days on hand!!

  3. Whenever I hear things like “raw prospect” and “needs refining,” I cringe with memories from JP Losman, Trent Edwards and EJ Manuel. “Cannon for an arm,” that brings back Losman and Taylor memories. So, my next question is, who is going to be the new “QB whisperer” for our new QB prospect? Sam Wyche was highly touted by the Bills as the guy who worked with Boomer Esiason and Joe Montana (if I remember correctly). Then there was David Lee Roth…don’t we wish, seriously, David Lee, the guy who brought the “wildcat” into the NFL and helped developed Tony Romo. How did all of that workout for the Bills…

    I know McBeane is heavy on their mantra of reliability, accountability, durability and availability, so did Rosen’s previous injuries in college scare off McBeane? Another question, since McDermott is very religious, did McBeane choose Allen because he is “a man of faith?” I respect anyone’s religious preferences, so I’m not knocking anyone for what/who they believe in, I’m just curious if religion was part of what enamored Allen to the Bills? Another theory, since McBeane came from Carolina and Allen is very comparable to Cam Newton in size and stature, was that another factor in McBeane selecting Allen? Did Terry Pegula influence the pick in any sort of way?

    Like Joma, I’m not happy with the Bills selecting Allen over Rosen. The knocks on Allen is that he’s only thrown for 300 yards twice in his college career, struggles with his second and third reads, has accuracy issues and has struggled against tougher competition….doesn’t that sound eerily similar to the guy the Bills just traded to Cleveland [Tyrod]? Rosen played behind a terrible O-line and basically had to put the team on his back to win games, but McBeane choose a Cam Newton sized Tyrod Taylor over him?! Don’t get me wrong, I hope Allen succeeds and has a very successful career in Buffalo. I also hope that McBeane and their scouts are a better judge of football players than I am. But, if this move does not pan out, then it’s back to the drawing board in another three to four years and by that time, we’ll be looking at 25 years since Jim Kelly retired and still no franchise QB.

  4. Every QB coming out in this years draft had warts, all we can do is what and see what happens,,

    Think positive that Allen could be the next Big Ben or Cam, he throws the ball down the field and from what the announcers commented on only 2 –300yard games is that he averaged between 20-25 throws a game….

    I forget what scouting report I read this…

    Strengths

    · Prototype frame for pocket passer

    · Sturdy base allows him to shake off sacks and extend plays

    · Rare arm strength and overall arm talent

    · Has variety of release points if needed

    · Can uncork suddenly when it breaks open

    · Able to thread the needle with a rocket launcher

    · Makes throws that no other quarterback in college can make

    · Excellent thrower of deep outs

    · Able to outpace safeties to deep sideline throws

    · Aggressive pump-fakes open double moves

    · Turns into competent traffic director when scrambling

    · Can roll right and fling it down the field with impressive velocity and placement

    · Asked to read the entire field

    · No throw is too challenging

    · Has arm strength and mobility to create explosive plays when play goes off-schedule

    · Ability to challenge safeties over the top could help running games

    · Attacks intermediate windows with pretty good precision when allowed to sit down in the pocket

    · Has experience under center and operating in play-action passing attack

    · Willing to pull it and move the chains with his legs

    · Has experience in poor weather

    Weaknesses

    · Never had completion rate higher than 56 percent in either season as a starter

    · Accuracy diminishes greatly when he’s forced to move his feet

    · May have too much hero in his blood

    · Tries to overcome obstacles with arm talent and makes poor decisions because of it

    · Takes too many chances with low percentage throws

    · Needs to play smarter and place higher value on the ball

    · Fastball pitcher whose touch could use improvement short

    · Will baby the deep throws at times

    · Field-reading is spotty

    · Needs to be more patient in allowing combo routes to develop

    · Would benefit by trading some velocity for better timing

    · Anticipatory throws don’t seem to come naturally

    · Pre-snap game plan appears unfocused

    · Breaks from pocket without cause throwing off his timing with receivers

    · Doesn’t keep feet “throw-ready” when sliding in pocket

    · Frequently defaults to off-platform throws when there is time to set fe

  5. “and has struggled against tougher competition”

    I’m not overly concerned with that…if it was simply that he struggled against quality competition I could write it off as the team was completely outclassed and there’s only so much one guy can do. My problem is he wasn’t impressive against even the crappy competition he regularly faced. Big Ben dominated the lesser competition peers. Same with Wentz. Allen? Nope. All you can say is he made some really impressive plays once in a while and has ideal size and physical tools. He apparently had one great quarter in a bowl game. A quarter! That’s the highlight of his career. The whole reliability, accountability, durability and availability,..what about productivity? Without that, who cares about the rest? The opposing teams probably won’t want to allow this guy to get hurt because then someone better might come in to replace him.

    I dunno, this just sucks. It’s why I was dreading the draft finally getting here. I want to post a million time how much I hate this and all the reasons why and how it’s going to fail…but I’m also already tired of it and know it’s no fun to read. I will try to bite my tongue. I’ve already made it more than painfully obvious I’m not a fan of the decision.

    • “He apparently had one great quarter in a bowl game. A quarter! That’s the highlight of his career.” He’s already doing better than Rob Johnson as Johnson’s big highlight was the game he had against the Ravens, by which the Bills traded a first and fourth round pick to Jacksonville, and gave him a $20+ million dollar contract (an expensive one at the time). Johnson proved that he could only come off the bench and play good for one game at a time. Johnson was never able to play good for two consecutive games.

  6. Allen was a projected first rounder by nearly every prospect ratings column I read! It’s not like a reach for EJ Mauuel (for example) who was not a projected first round pick- they got a good first round caliber prospect that they believed in who has some huge plusses for the position.
    Let’s see how he does with some pro level coaching and development! To be “gutted” by this pick is hard to understand.
    The comparisons to tyrod taylor are ridiculous. maybe his completion rate is low because he has a high percentage of deep passes?
    Even if he is a tyrod taylor, i would be happy with a tyrod taylor that was taller, made better decisions, had a stronger arm and better downfield vision!

  7. “To be “gutted” by this pick is hard to understand.”

    You’ll find out… But hey, maybe Rosen will bust too and soften the blow.

    • Well, anyone who watched Rosen’s interview after the draft should be thinking “dodged THAT bullet, thank God.”

      My take: Rosen really doesn’t like to play football, all that much.

  8. I watched the Soul and Science ESPN show today on Allen and feel more comfortable with the pick. The question will be whether he has the capability to process defenses and make the right reads. He has all the physical tools.

  9. “With a completion percentage of just over 56-percent in his two years as the starter with Wyoming, Allen will have to defy all odds in order to develop into a player worthy of the price tag and draft position. While anything is possible, the situation doesn’t appear particularly promising.”

    Oh, sweet Jesus.

    None of Josh Allen’s wideouts will be drafted.

    None of Josh Allen’s offensive linemen will be drafted. And it’s been commented on by several pundits that he spent a fair amount of time last season running for his life.

    When you can’t protect a quarterback, completion percentages go down. When you can’t catch the ball, completion percentages go down. If Allen had pro-level talent at either the Oline or the wideout positions, the completion percentage would start to matter. As it is right now, it doesn’t.

    Allen was the best QB in the draft according to some (not many, but some) commentators. He’s the first top-prospect quarterback to be picked by the Bills since Jim Kelly; neither Manuel or Losman would have gone nearly so high if not for desperate need.

    Give it a rest. You don’t know how this kid is going to work out, and neither do I. What I do know is that the Bills have given themselves their first legitimate shot at having a top-notch QB since they moved on from an aging Drew Bledsoe, and even if Allen never sees the field this year, McCarron provides upside over Tyrod Taylor, who never should have been anything but a backup.

  10. ” He’s already doing better than Rob Johnson as Johnson’s big highlight was the game he had against the Ravens, by which the Bills traded a first and fourth round pick to Jacksonville, and gave him a $20+ million dollar contract (an expensive one at the time). Johnson proved that he could only come off the bench and play good for one game at a time. Johnson was never able to play good for two consecutive games.”

    By a quarter, I meant 15 minutes…not quarter of a season. So if Johnson had one good game as a highlight, he’s still more accomplished.

    “cardinals were trying to trade up to take allen, we beat them to it.”

    If that’s true, you’re friggin welcome, AZ! I wish somebody woulda saved us from ourselves and forced us to ‘settle’ for the better player…all while costing less to do it.

    It’s funny…didn’t the Bills already have a big, strong, super athletic 6’5″ QB with an absolute rocket arm (and accuracy issues)…and one with a much more impressive resume? One that won huge games against the top competition, all in impressive fashion? What did they do with him? They shipped him off for a bag of peanuts so they could bring in Peterman last year.

  11. Really, to you think the Bills would draft a QB based on 1 quarter of football come on now that sounds ridiculous. This administration so far has proven that he knows what it is doing–I guess we are not use to a GM getting along with the Coach and working as a team to better the Bills. I’m positive they did their due diligence before making Allen their choice…

    To be gutted by this move–I hope I read this out of context.. We gave up two #2’s instead of both ones, two’s or a possible one next year…

    We have the same number of players after 3 rounds (3) as in a normal draft.

    BTW the DT they drafted Phillips in the 3rd is a hell of a player, I remember when the Bills interviewed him and the Bills walked away impressed. Ourlad’s had him rated 2nd or 3rd round and actually compared him to Kyle Williams…

  12. It’s not what they gave up in picks that I’m upset by, it’s that they gave up what I view to be a potential legit franchise QB (my top choice even) for a guy that I will bet you actual money isn’t one.

    Word has it Pegula was enamored with his arm… Did he influence the selection? Along with their whole faith, family, football mantra. I’m for all those things, too…but I wouldn’t take a worse player because he didn’t share my faith beliefs.

  13. NFL QB selection is a crap shoot, nobody knows how to qualify a QB prospect, not the pundits, not GMs, not O coordinators, nobody. There are only nine teams with solid, grounded, consistent QBs. We just have to hope JA can find that “it” factor that makes a good QB. Do the Bills have a coach that can help him get there? Maybe McCarron will surprise us and settle in as a solid starting QB when given the opportunity. It’s a crap shoot.

  14. Joma, with all the people I know that live in Buffalo and follow the Bills it was never ever mentioned even a rumor about faith and family that influenced the picking of Allen.