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3 things we learned on the final day of the 2020 Bills Draft

Wrap-Up _ Centerpiece_V2

1. More talent surrounding Josh Allen

By the end of the 2020 NFL draft it was evident that the Bills personnel department was dead set on putting more playmaking talent around QB Josh Allen. Day 3 brought the addition of not one but two wide receivers.

Buffalo took Central Florida wideout Gabriel Davis in round four and followed that up with the selection of Oregon State receiver Isaiah Hodgins in round six. The two receivers have the same calling card. Both are long, tall wideouts who make plays on the ball outside of their catch radius.

"I definitely bring just a big body receiver who can go up and get that ball and I feel like I've been consistent over my years and I feel like I'm going to step into whatever role that they give me and just go excel in that," said Hodgins. "Whether they want me to run down on special teams or they want me to be a huge red zone threat, I feel like I bring a lot to the table."

What Hodgins brings to the table is the second-highest touchdown total in Oregon State history. The 6-3 ½ receiver found the end zone 20 times, with many of his scores coming on fade and corner routes where his 80 ½ inch wingspan and 36 ½ inch vertical made him a target that could reach almost 11 feet in the air to pull down footballs.

The only player to score more touchdowns than Hodgins at Oregon State was a guy named Brandin Cooks. Maybe you've heard of him.

Gabriel Davis found the end zone even more than Hodgins with 23 career touchdowns in three seasons including 12 in 2019.

"Big player, vertical stretch, can go up high point the ball, contested balls," said GM Brandon Beane. "A size guy, he's a strong guy, he's got some run after catch. We just liked the way he competes. I thought he had a really good year, and I thought his hands were one of his strong points."

Being able to have the length to catch passes outside their body frame is the one thing that was missing from Buffalo's receiving corps. Now they have a pair of wideouts who can offer that in the event that Josh Allen is hurried on a throw or can quite put a pass between the numbers.

"It's something I've been practicing since a young age," said Hodgins of making difficult catches. "I just feel like it was part of a God-given ability that I have and I've just put in extra work after practice working on my hands so when those tough catches come in the game I can make them."

Suffice to say between the two rookies and Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen's completion percentage is likely to go up again in 2020.

2. QB understudy

Brandon Beane didn't expect Jake Fromm to be on the board by the time it was their turn to pick in round five. After the Georgia quarterback won at the highest level in the most competitive conference and beat out the likes of Jacob Eason and Justin Fields, forcing both to transfer to Washington and Ohio State, Buffalo's GM just could not leave him on the board.

"I wouldn't have told you going into the day that he was on our radar, but we had him in a spot that you just can't ignore and we gave him his due," Beane said. "This guy is a winner at the highest level of college. He's got all the intangibles. He's smart. When I went down to that school to watch them practice they said he loves being the guy at Georgia. They said this guy would be in there, 11 or 12 at night with the coaches, walking out the door the same time as the offensive coaches. Just a guy who loves everything about the game, the full process, the preparation, and that matters."

The reason it matters to the Bills is because Fromm could eventually be the backup to Josh Allen. Many draft analysts saw Fromm as an ideal reserve quarterback in the league because at 6-2 and 219 pounds he lacks ideal size and doesn't have high-end arm strength. But he has everything else.

Georgia's coaches let Fromm change plays at the line of scrimmage and reset protections pre-snap. Fromm even spoke of times when he changed the call to a play that wasn't even in the game plan. That kind of high football IQ can serve a quarterback room well even if the guy who owns that brain isn't playing on Sunday.Buffalo was clearly impressed with Fromm's knowledge of the game after an hour-long pre-draft visit via a Zoom call.

"We had a meeting and it went really well," said Fromm. "It was a strong hour, got to install some plays, talk about some film and really just kind of connect and talk with the coach (Brian) Daboll and coach (Ken) Dorsey. It was a great conversation and I guess we hit it off pretty good. I came back feeling pretty pumped about it and extremely thankful that I'll be there in the room."

Beane admits Fromm has an uphill climb knowing how highly the organization thinks of Matt Barkley and the immensely positive influence he has had on Allen's game.

"He'll have to earn a spot here," Beane said. "Obviously Josh is our starter. Matt has been a great backup for us. I don't know if he'll be able to knock Matt off. We'll see about that but we could definitely go with two quarterbacks, we could go with three quarterbacks.

"Davis Webb has not had a real chance to show us what he can do. So he's still in the mix right now. Anytime you can add a good football player... quarterback is a premium position. I just felt like he was too good to value to pass up."

Buffalo was clearly impressed with Fromm's knowledge of the game after an hour-long pre-draft visit via a Zoom call.

"We had a meeting and it went really well," said Fromm. "It was a strong hour, got to install some plays, talk about some film and really just kind of connect and talk with the coach (Brian) Daboll and coach (Ken) Dorsey. It was a great conversation and I guess we hit it off pretty good. I came back feeling pretty pumped about it and extremely thankful that I'll be there in the room."

Beane admits Fromm has an uphill climb knowing how highly the organization thinks of Matt Barkley and the immensely positive influence he has had on Allen's game.

"He'll have to earn a spot here," Beane said. "Obviously Josh is our starter. Matt has been a great backup for us. I don't know if he'll be able to knock Matt off. We'll see about that but we could definitely go with two quarterbacks, we could go with three quarterbacks.

"Davis Webb has not had a real chance to show us what he can do. So he's still in the mix right now. Anytime you can add a good football player... quarterback is a premium position. I just felt like he was too good to value to pass up."

3. Competition in the kicking room

In a room that during the regular season typically has three players, Buffalo's room of kicking specialists will have five when they're allowed to reconvene when the worst is over with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bills drafted kicker Tyler Bass with the first of their two sixth-round picks at 188 overall. The Georgia Southern product, who hit 93 percent of his kicks between 30 and 50 yards, but of particular importance was his career touchback rate of 73.8 percent.

Buffalo finished middle of the pack last season in touchback percentage at 58 percent. Beane has said that while special teams improved in 2019, it has to take another step in 2020.

Competition is clearly one of the ways the Bills intend to push that effort forward.

Not only does Bass now enter the mix, but Buffalo also signed punter/kicker Kaare Vedvik as a future free agent this past January. Beane confirmed that Vedvik will compete primarily with incumbent punter Corey Bojorquez and Bass will compete with Stephen Hauschka.

"Vedvik's first position, punter," said Beane. "Position two he's the kickoff guy, and he can compete as a long field goal guy too. That's one of the things we talked about with Stephen. Last year Stephen was unable to kick you know the 55-plus balls, as much. But we were happy with Stephen's accuracy 50 and in. So that was one of the attractive things with Vedvik and the various roles that he could play. So he'll still be in that.

"Tyler, we really liked this kicker and my exposure to him was at the Senior Bowl.

Bass was booming long field goals right from the beginning of practices in Mobile during warmups. His leg strength is evident in person as the ball jumps off his foot.

"I was there all week and you saw his leg strength. He was banging some long field goals. And I was like, 'Wow.' This guy and his leg strength in Buffalo, we know how windy it gets. Kickoffs are super important. So, we put him where we thought he belonged on the board, and he was the best player there."

Beane reaffirmed the team's belief in Hauschka as their place kicker and was quick to remind everyone that he just signed the veteran to a contract extension at the start of last season.

"He made some big kicks down the stretch and that's what I told Bass," said Beane.

Hauschka very quietly hit his last 13 attempts of the 2019 season including all four in the Wild Card playoff loss at Houston. That included a perfect 6-6 streak on kicks of 40 yards or more, the last of which was his clutch 47-yard attempt with five seconds left in regulation to force overtime in the playoff game.

But Beane said even if they hadn't drafted Bass they would've signed a kicker as an undrafted free agent.

"We definitely wanted to go to camp with two punters and two kickers," he said.

Buffalo's roster is going to be one of the toughest to make this fall at many different positions, rookies and veterans included.

Scroll through to view photos of Buffalo's selections in the 2020 NFL Draft to this point. Draft coverage is presented by ECMC.

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