I haven’t read or watched the national pundits about the Bills’ draft, and may not. I haven’t even put the local Kool-Aid to my lips before writing this summary. What I already know about the Bills’ draft comes unfiltered. Here goes.
Beane and his War Room were the most prepared staff I’ve ever seen. They were unafraid to stand pat at #9, where 3-tech Ed Oliver fell into their laps. Somebody had to replace Kyle’s tackles, even if they’ll never replace the man. Ed Oliver was the only value choice at #9 per DraftTek’s Big Board at +2, as Jonah Williams, Christian Wilkins, and Rashan Gary were all reaches. Oliver was DraftTek’s #1 pick on their first mock way back in June 2018. He was misused at Houston as a NT in a 3-4, where he fought off double-teams to produce 1.68 tackless for loss, more than Wilkins and Rashan Gary combined.
They were fearless about moving ahead of Tampa Bay in RD2 to snag OGRT Cody Ford as their RD2#38, PFF’s #22-ranked player. Our DraftTek OL Analyst still feels that Cody Ford’s best position will be “phone-booth Guard”, not RT, where “he’s a holding penalty waiting to happen”, but we felt the same way about Dion Dawkins playing OT. Bumblebees aren’t supposed to fly if you merely consider the physics. I personally have a good feeling about our new RT in Bobby Johnson
In RD3, the Bills braintrust bravely added FBS yardage leader Devin Singletary to a 6-man RB room because they thought he offered more upside than fan faves WR Terry McLaurin or TE Jace Sternberger. Singletary’s obscenely-high 87 Missed Tackles Forced, 4,459 career yards (#1 in FBS), and 66 career TDs (most in FBS) will just have to do, and gives Beane the flexibility to move on from our starting RBs McCoy and Gore (I just love saying that). Singletary is not proven as a receiver and lacks deep speed, but he’ll break a ton of tackles and ankles in training camp.
When some Bills fans had gone to bed, Beane & Co. traded back into the third round and took their TE, 30-visitor Dawson Knox, who offers more suddenness, strength, savvy, and speed than our pet cat Sternberger.
Knox was on the NFL’s Freaks List for a reason. They wanted beef in that TE position. Knox will compete favorably with Jake Fisher, Croom, Tyler Kroft and Sweeney, who I’ll get to.
I said that Beane’s scouts would make hay on Day 3, and I was right; they mined for one gem after another. It started with RD5 OLB-NCB Vosean Joseph (+79 Value on our Big Board), who’s already a human highlight reel. He’s likely the WiLB or Big Nickel. He plays with reckless abandon, and will need to be tamed.
In RD6, Beane added the smart, scrappy Box SS Jaquan Johnson (+60 Value on our Big Board). Jaquan is the “great person coaches rave about” who has work ethic up the wazoo. He’s very intelligent, a common thread among Beane’s acquisitions. He led Miami in solo tackles, assists, and forced fumbles, tying for the team lead in interceptions and fumble recoveries. His stats were better than recent RD1 Derwin James. He had a bad Combine showing, and it dropped him to the Bills.
The players the Bills considered at EDGE dominated the pre-draft, 30-visit landscape: Josh Allen, Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, Jaylon Ferguson, Maxx Crosby, and Shareef Miller all came to town. The Shrine Game visits seemed an afterthought at the time. EDGE guys like Darryl Johnson from NC A&T, Tennessee’s Kyle Phillips, and Derick Roberson from Sam Houston State all got postseason face time with Bills scouts. Darryl Johnson won, and here’s why: the number 1.44. That’s the Tackles For Loss per Game that Darryl Johnson averaged enroute to his Conference Defensive Player of the Year title. That’s second among ALL EDGE rushers in this class. His weight and speed match Jerry Hughes. Boom.
Beane wasn’t done at TE. He waited to RD7 to snag the best pure-blocking TE in the draft, a freshman walk-on to Male Athlete of the Year: Tommy Sweeney (+62). Sweeney caught 72% of passes thrown his way this year, so he’s no one-trick pony. Like Kroft, when Sweeney’s on the field, you don’t know if he’s blocking or going out on a route, and disguised TEs are exactly what Daboll wants. Jake Fisher is untried as a receiver. Croom isn’t the blocker our drafted TEs are. Clay couldn’t stay healthy; Sweeney, the grit-and-perseverence type that oozes One Buffalo, has 38 games played out of 38, which was the one flaw of Dawson Knox. Hockenson played 23 college games, Sternberger 15. Great dual pickup at the position.
Already landing should’ve-been-drafted UDFAs in Free Agency –local QB Tyree Jackson (+101), WRs David Sills at 6’3″ (+126), and Iowa’s top pass-catcher (diminutive WR Nick Easley, not Hockenson!)– was the frosting on a carefully-crafted cake.
Some picks will be panned y national media and deemed “reaches” (Singletary and Darryl Johnson), but I think time will likely prove Beane and Company’s
informed speculation was sheer genius. The Process continues.
Editor’s babble: As always thanks to the incredible Dean Kindig for all his contributions to our blog. We are blessed to host his draft coverage. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.