Heavy lifting done, Bills add depth in draft

The Associated PressIn this July 26, 2018 file photo, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, right, and general manager Brandon Beane speak to reporters before practice at training camp in Pittsford.

BUFFALO — Brandon Beane’s objective upon arriving in Buffalo was to build competition at every position.

Three years later, the Bills general manager took a significant step toward realizing his vision.

With few tradeable assets, Beane mostly resisted the urge to trade up and down the NFL draft order as he had done the previous two years.

And having addressed the team’s most immediate needs in free agency and the acquisition of receiver Stefon Diggs in a trade with Minnesota last month, Beane spent much of the three-day draft shoring up secondary positions.

The standing-pat approach paid off in the early rounds.

Without the benefit of a first-round pick, which Buffalo traded in the deal for Diggs, Beane targeted backup needs by selecting Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa and Utah running back Zack Moss on Friday.

With Buffalo’s final five picks on Saturday, he turned his attention to adding competition at various positions — from drafting a quarterback, Georgia's Jake Fromm, to adding a place-kicker in Georgia Southern’s Tyler Bass.

Beane was able to stay patient in making his selections, knowing the Bills had fewer needs after spending the past two offseasons using Buffalo's new-found salary-cap space to add veteran free agents.

Beane also placed an emphasis on adding veteran players to fill immediate roster needs, because they should be more comfortable learning a playbook as opposed to counting on rookies to develop with the coronavirus pandemic cutting into offseason practice time.

Beane acknowledged he wasn’t anticipating selecting a quarterback in the fifth round, but found Fromm difficult to pass up with the No. 167 pick.

Fromm, who led Georgia to the College Football Playoff title game in 2018, isn’t expected to challenge Josh Allen for the starting job.

And yet he provides Buffalo potential long-term insurance in a backup position with veteran Matt Barkley entering the final year of his contract.

And even veteran kicker Stephen Hauschka was sent his latest reminder of his job not being secure with Bass being selected 188th overall. Hauschka struggled last season in missing six of 28 field-goal attempts, including two in a 19-16 loss to Cleveland.

ON THE RECEIVING END

Adding Diggs to a group of receivers that includes John Brown and Cole Beasley didn’t stop the Bills from stocking up on the position in the draft.

Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis was selected in the fourth round (128th overall), and Oregon State’s Isaiah Hodgins was chosen with pick No. 207.

Buffalo’s depth chart already includes returning backups Andre Roberts, Isaiah McKenzie, Robert Foster and Duke Williams.

“Yeah, they’ve got deep guys, but you come to the NFL to compete,” said Davis, who set a single-season school record with 1,241 yards receiving as a junior last year.

TRADER BEANE

Beane was busy in his previous two drafts in Buffalo. In 2018, he moved up five spots to select quarterback Josh Allen with the No. 7 pick, and then moved up six spots to draft linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16.

Last year, Beane traded up two spots to select tackle Cody Ford in the second round. He also gave up two fourth-round selections to trade back into the third round to select tight end Dawson Knox.

Without revealing the details, the closest Beane came to making a trade was in the latter rounds. He said he had just finalized making a deal when the player he was targeting was selected.

MOSS MEANS BUSINESS

Moss’ physical straight-ahead running style is expected to complement starting running back Devin Singletary’s shiftier approach.

Beane cited a statistic in which Moss broke at least one tackle on 38% of his carries, and has a chance to earn a job in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Moss, who set the Utah career record with 38 touchdowns rushing, said he enjoys bowling over defenders.

“I like to be physical, trying to have defenses make a lot of business decisions in making tackles against me,” he said.

KICKING IT

Bass became the 12th place kicker drafted by Buffalo since 1970s, and third since the Bills used a seventh-round pick to select John Potter in 2012. The Bills actually chose two kickers — Grant Guthrie in the sixth round and Stefan Schroder, 13th — in 1970.

FINAL PICK

The Bills closed the draft by selecting Pitt cornerback Dane Jackson with the 239th pick.

Recommended for you