Value of pre-draft visits goes beyond drafting players


All NFL teams are allowed 30 pre-draft visits, according to league rules. If a team brings a player to their facility for a pre-draft visit, there’s a good chance they might be interested in drafting him, if given the opportunity. Of course, no team is drafting 30 players, so they know they won’t be drafting most of those players who come to town. Even if that’s the case, those visits are often really helpful to teams in other ways.

On Monday afternoon, I had a chance to ask Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane about the value and purpose of these visits beyond the obvious. Here are two things he mentioned, that many people probably don’t think about as much: 

1.) Getting to know the player if the Bills have to face him

Yep, good old scouting the opponent here. Sort of. Of course the Bills don’t know what players will be drafted by whom and who they will or won’t face in 2019, but there's a chance they’ll have to play that player at some point over the next couple of years. Having a chance to meet him, ask him questions about football, and study his film even more in-depth gives Bills coaches a chance to draw on what they learned about him, including his strengths and weaknesses. 

2.) Building a profile if the player ever becomes available

Beane told me he keeps detailed notes of all the prospects the Bills bring in for a visit, then if that player ever becomes a free agent, or available via trade, he can refer back to those notes and get a much better understanding of the player both on and off the field. It’s just an added layer of information on top of what they already see from him on film and know about him via other resources through his time in the league already to that point. 

Although many believe teams use some of their pre-draft visits to throw other teams off the track and make them think they’re interested in drafting a player they aren’t, Beane says that’s not the case with the Bills. He told me that although there are players who visit he knows they might not draft in the end, he doesn’t use the visits as flat-out smokescreens. Each team only gets 30 of them and there’s a purpose behind each one. He said that if a player comes in, it means there are questions the team needs answered about him, whether that’s character, medical, off-the-field issues, or of course on-the-field related. 

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