Beane takes competitive, but measured approach to first draft as GM

Posted Apr 17, 2018

He's not one to be swayed by the actions of other NFL clubs, but in Brandon Beane's measured approach is an under current of competitive fire that's determined to succeed.

He admits he’s lost sleep.

Armed with a draft stockpile of historic proportions, which included a move nine spots up the board in round one in a trade with Cincinnati, the expectations for Buffalo’s haul in the 2018 NFL draft have been raised. Set to make good on that draft capital is Bills GM Brandon Beane, who enters his first draft as the guy calling the shots.

Beane, who has worked in NFL personnel and football operations for the better part of the last 20 years, has been groomed for the work that will unfold in front of him on the fly for three straight days beginning on April 26th.

“Brandon really grew up and he’s ready,” said Giants GM Dave Gettleman, under whom Beane worked in Carolina’s front office. “Brandon is bright, tough, and thoughtful. He went through the process with us of talking and collaborating and communication and he’s got that piece down well.”

Beane hasn’t been shy in trying to put the Bills in a more favorable position, trading a 28-year old left tackle to move up 12 spots on the board in round one. He has also worked to rid the team of some bad contracts and has determined it’s best to bite the ‘dead-money’ bullet in 2018 to make them more flexible with the salary cap in 2019 and beyond.

There have also been some unexpected developments concerning Buffalo’s roster. Eric Wood’s career-ending neck injury and the retirement of Richie Incognito chief among them. Beane however, hasn’t wavered. 

“It doesn’t change our approach. You constantly have to adapt and adjust,” he said.

Beane’s approach is a measured one, rooted in hard work and planning. Perhaps some general managers might have been taken aback by the Jets overpaying in their trade with the Colts to move up just three spots on the draft board from six to three, a perceived landing spot for Buffalo in a trade-up scenario.

Beane, as he says, just adapts and adjusts. But there is also an undercurrent of competitive fire. While he won’t let another team’s actions force his hand, Beane will redouble his efforts to find a new solution to achieving his goals for the Bills franchise.

“I’m a competitor,” he said. “You want to win every pick. You want to feel like you got a steal in the first round. That’s natural. I can’t say it always happens that way. There are different things that have been in my head. I’m sure the same for Sean (McDermott) where he’s thinking this guy would be a great fit for us.

“I love it. I love my job. I love everything about it. This is huge. This is where my staff and I show that we’ve done the work and we’re competent people. My job at the end of the day is to give (McDermott) and his coaches the resources to lead the team and to produce on the field. If I do my job that helps him do his.”

Beane understands the wide speculation that Buffalo will trade up from their current position at 12 into the top five to get a perceived franchise quarterback. He knows why that narrative exists.

But Buffalo’s GM has to deal with reality, not speculation, and sometimes finding a willing dance partner in a trade offer is easier said than done.

“We’re at 12 and I don’t know what’s going to be there at 12,” he said. “I don’t know what quarterback will be there. I don’t know if we’re going up or going down. That’s really how it is as I sit here. I know everybody assumes we’re trading up. First of all, even if I wanted to trade up right now, even if I said, ‘I know the guy I want to get and I need to get this spot.’ It takes a partner to do it and be willing to move out.”

As badly as Beane wants to nail every pick the Bills make between Thursday and Saturday next week, he knows there are 31 other NFL clubs trying to do the same thing, and when there are that many other variables there are more circumstances that one can’t control than those a single NFL GM can.

That’s why Beane and his staff have remained diligent in their preparations right down to the last full week before the draft, and those plans will continue into early next week.

Mock drafts in their draft room will begin Monday. Members of the scouting and personnel departments will be assigned NFL teams and will make picks based on the perceived needs of those clubs. They’ll also hash out the clumps of prospects with very similar grades on the board and determine who would be picked first, second and third if all three were still available.

RELATED: Top 5 things we learned from the Bills pre-draft press conference

As for all the speculated pre-draft trades, Beane has no time for it. He also doesn’t want to be influenced by it.

“There’s so much chatter out there,” he said. “If you pay attention to it… the last thing I want to do is to be swayed by anything from the outside. So I don’t listen to it.”

Beane undoubtedly has plans for the team’s nine draft selections, and he likely has contingency plans as well knowing how arbitrary the draft can be. But he’s kept a tight hold on his preferences or leanings with respect to prospects or their position at 12 and 22 in round one.

“Those (plans) have not left the building,” he said. “So, no, my wife doesn’t know.”

Beane, along with his personnel and scouting departments, will put a bow on their year of work early next week, but they’ll be grinding all the way.

“We want to find the best football players that we can to help us in 2018 and beyond. That’s the vision,” Beane said. “Until (the draft) gets here, all you can do is be anxious and do the work. I feel good about the work, and if you do the work, generally things fall into place.”