CAPACCIO: Staying true to his word, Beane stuck to his board

Brandon Beane
Photo credit Photo: Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

When Brandon Beane told reporters a few months ago that he doesn’t and won’t draft “for need,” many fans, and some media, said he’s not telling the truth or it was simply semantics. That wasn’t the case, because the general manager of the Buffalo Bills clearly stayed true to that philosophy this week while selecting players during the 2019 NFL Draft.  

Beane came away with players at all different positions, and even a few at spots where the team is already set on their depth chart. In this case, the players he chose were just too highly ranked on his board to pass up, regardless of position.  

For instance, even after adding Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon to a backfield that already included LeSean McCoy and Marcus Murphy, Beane used a valuable third round pick to grab Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary. Then in the sixth round, Beane grabbed Miami (FL) safety Jaquon Johnson, even though they already have one of the best safety tandems in the NFL in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Nether position was considered needy.

Offensive line was still considered an area the team could add and upgrade, but they did sign six unrestricted free agents over the last couple months, all with plenty of NFL experience. Yet, Beane traded up in the second round for Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, considered one of the top tackles in the class and one many analysts believed would be selected in the first round.

“We had a very good grade on Cody,” Beane said. “We even looked into late [Thursday] night potentially getting him at the end of the first [round]. It was a little rich for us. We felt like we would be giving up too many assets to do that. We made some calls and, fortunately, he was there to make that move with Oakland and pick him up. He can play right tackle or guard for us. I would say position one for us right now would be right tackle, but we do like the versatility to go inside. He's smart and physical and would be fine in there.”

Ford’s arrival will create some immediate competition up front, something head coach Sean McDermott is looking forward to.

“Competition is a good a thing,” McDermott said. “I know we both believe in building it up front. If you study the league over the years, as I'm sure you guys do, you've got to have it on both sides of the ball. It starts up front. When you look at not only Cody, but really the other picks today and yesterday within [the first three rounds], smart, tough. There's something to be said for those two qualities right there.”

It wasn’t just what positions Beane did select, it was also which ones he didn’t. Coming into the weekend, most believed the team needed to add to it’s defensive end spot, and especially try to add a pass rusher, considering Jerry Hughes is 31-years-old and going into the last year of his contract, Shaq Lawson is going into the last year of his deal (although the team can exercise a fifth-year option if they choose), and Trent Murphy had trouble staying healthy last year. They took an end, but not until the seventh round when they called North Carolina A&T’s Darryl Johnson, who will have a big jump from the MEAC to the NFL.

They also didn’t select a wide receiver, even though this was considered a fairly deep class, and the Bills still have questions at the position. Vosean Joseph of Florida represents some depth at the linebacker spot, which looks to be thin right now, but the Bills didn’t address that until they took him in the sixth round.  

For Beane, it was never about positions. It was always about the player. Get good football players. You always need them.  

That started with their first round choice of defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who happened to play a position they did need after Kyle Williams’ retirement, but was still high on their board.

“I told you we’re going to take good football players,” Beane said after the first round on Friday night. “You can never have enough pass rushers, whether it’s exterior or on the interior. Again, three [technique] is an important piece to Sean’s defense, so losing Kyle made it a bigger need. But, if Kyle was here, we would’ve still taken Ed Oliver.”

The Bills did address tight end with a couple different selections, taking Mississippi’s Dawson Knox with their second third round choice, and Tommy Sweeney of Boston College with their final selection, No. 228 overall, in the seventh. 

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