In the midst of what's going on in our world, the 2020 NFL Draft will provide an escape for many as we all continue to deal with the COVID-19 situation. It will also be an opportunity to support relief efforts and recognize those on the front lines who battling this pandemic each and every day.
No, the Bills don't have a first-round pick in this draft but with the No. 54 and No. 86 overall picks plus five other picks, there's still plenty to look forward to. General manager Brandon Beane and his personnel department excel at the ability to find talent for the Bills roster. Recent mid-round picks like running back Devin Singletary, tight end Dawson Knox, cornerback Taron Johnson and others are key parts to the Buffalo's playoff roster from last season.
Beane has said the puzzle to the perfect roster will never be finalized, but this year's seven picks can definitely help the team continue to move in the right direction. There are plenty of reasons to be excited for the 2020 NFL Draft, here are seven of them.
1. No first-round pick, no problem?
The Bills won't be involved in the first-round of this year's NFL Draft due to a trade that acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. Beane loves his draft picks. But if there's a year to not have a first-round pick, this might be the one.
"I'm very passionate about my draft picks," Brandon Beane said on Pardon My Take’s podcast. "Rarely are you going to see, as long as I'm with the Buffalo Bills, me trade a number one. But this was just a move [we wanted to make] especially in light of what's going on in our country. We don't even know what kind of offseason we will have, so to be able to get a veteran versus schooling a rookie up we just thought made the most sense this year."
Beane is calling Diggs his No. 22 pick. Bills fans have reason to be happy about this because Diggs is a known competitor and his production in Minnesota proves that he can be a difference-maker in Buffalo.
"If you're the Bills you have to say Stefon Diggs is our first-round pick," Trey Wingo said on One Bills Live. "He's in his mid 20s, you've seen him be explosive. To me for the Bills, this is a big year for Josh Allen. It's year number three. You have, what I think, is a great tight end in Dawson Knox. You have Cole Beasley who can catch things over the middle. You have two guys who can burn the lid off a top of the defense in John Brown and Stefon Diggs. This is the year for Josh Allen to make the quantum leap."
The Bills don't have to worry about their first-round pick making an immediate impact in a world where we aren't exactly sure what the offseason will look like. With Diggs, you can take a sigh of relief. It won't matter what the offseason looks like for him, he has played five seasons in the NFL and has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. So, follow Beane, put your feet up and watch some Diggs highlights while other teams are clamoring to make the perfect pick on night one.
2. The first-ever virtual draft
How will it look? Will internet connection be strong enough? What if the power goes out? Are there enough screens? Will communication be normal? Will my kids be too loud in the background?
You may be asking yourself these questions, but every NFL GM and his staff are wondering the same thing. With the first-ever virtual draft set to take place beginning Thursday night, there will be many firsts like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holding the draft out of his basement. GMs across the league are creating their draft setup and running through several scenarios of, 'If this goes wrong, how do we fix it?'
"Anytime you're dealing with technology you have to be ready for the unknown," Beane told One Bills Live. "I do believe in what Dan Evans (VP of IT) and his staff have been able to do, we've created some backups, we've tried to talk through okay if this happens, what's our plan B. I feel like as we sit here a week out, I feel good about where we are at."
One reason to rest assured why the Bills will operate seamlessly is because of their staff. Beane and head coach Sean McDermott are entering year four with each other along with several others in the player personnel department. This group has been together for years. They've drafted together for years. There's no question of, 'Are we on the same page?'
"I think a team like the Bills could capitalize in a situation like this because they have it down with how their process works, their brain trust, who's making the decisions" The Athletic’s Dane Brugler told One Bills Live. "I think the Bills could be one of those teams that takes advantage of a situation like this where it's very unconventional but they are set up well with the communication factor and just their brain trust that they will do well."
3. Something to get you off your seat
Usually the word 'trade' within an NFL draft can make a fan question their team. What in the heck are they doing, there's the perfect player on the board? Why are we trading down right now?
Bills fans have no need to think this way. Why? Because we have Brandon Beane. The master of finding the best value for his team. It's okay to let the word 'trade' excite you. Beane has made it clear that trades, whether it's going up or down in the draft, could happen depending on who's on the board.
"I don't anticipate us trying to get up into the first round, that's not something we are contemplating right now," Beane said on One Bills Live. "I've looked at Friday with what we can do going up, the spots that it would cost us, a fifth-round pick, the spots that it would cost us, a fourth-round pick. Also, some teams with multiple picks that may be teams who have been aggressive or want to be aggressive if they think there's going to be a run on a position. I'll have a better idea after I see what goes in round one but I've already looked at teams if we want to go the other way, from 54 and go south and pick up another pick. We will be ready, I'll have a lot more clarity after day one."
Day one will play a big factor should the Bills make moves on day two and three. Buckle up and get the popcorn ready because Brandon Beane likes to be aggressive.
Scroll through to view photos of prospects that some mock draft experts have Buffalo selecting in the second or third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
4. A chance to help Josh Allen score more points?
A popular position in this draft for the Bills amongst NFL analysts is running back. Many believe the Bills should target a running back in this draft due to the talent that should be on the board in the second and third round. NFL analyst Charles Davis thinks the Bills don't have any immediate needs, but believes it would be a good idea to add depth to the room.
"I think there are going to be a lot of guys," Davis said on One Bills Live. "So if you have a lock in at running back at 54, I think there will be a lot of choices in that area if you get to the second round."
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has chosen a defensive end heading to Buffalo with the No. 54 pick in his two latest two-round mock drafts. Kiper thinks if the Bills have a running back high on their board, they can find a playmaker with the No. 54 or No. 86 pick.
"It depends on their board," Kiper said on a conference call. "It could be a running back to go along with Singletary. At that point, the No. 54 spot, I don't think [J.K.] Dobbins or [Jonathan] Taylor will be there but maybe Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU, A.J. Dillon from Boston College, Cam Akers from Florida State or Zack Moss from Utah would all be very interesting possibilities."
Beane has expressed his confidence in T.J. Yeldon as a backup to Singletary. But with the talent available in the draft, adding a fresh pair of legs to an already talented room could provide quarterback Josh Allen with another weapon to help the offense score more points.
5. The next Bills edge rusher could be in this draft
The Bills made a lot of moves during free agency to help bolster the defensive line, one of those players being defensive end Mario Addison. Addison, Jerry Hughes and defensive end Trent Murphy will be among the primary pass rushers in 2020 and should provide great production on the line. But if the right edge rusher falls to the Bills, it wouldn't be wild to see general manager Brandon Beane go in that direction.
It's a premier position that falls right under quarterback. Edge rusher has been the most favorite mocked to the Bills at No. 54 and No. 86 out of 49 mock drafts we have tracked. The chance to groom a potential future starter under Hughes, Addison and Murphy makes it an attractive position for Bills fans to keep an eye on. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline thinks first-round graded pass rushers could fall into the second round.
"I think it could be your defensive ends, some of your second-tier pass rushers" Pauline told One Bills Live. "There's some talk that A.J. Epenesa from Iowa could fall into the second round because he didn't test that well. Yetur Gross-Matos the pass rusher from Penn State didn't test at all and he's a guy who's a late first-rounder. I think the defensive end class, really the pass-rusher class, however you like to call it these days, really falls off a cliff after Chase Young. That's the position that you could see guys fall in the second round if there is a run on receivers late in round one."
6. Quality, versatile corners available on day two and three
Cornerback is a very intriguing position in this year's NFL Draft. Several analysts believe there's a big drop off after top prospects Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson. But, that's not technically a bad thing because what's left is a huge flock of corners who have been all over the board in the late first and second round.
The interesting part about the group is when the run on corners will start. If it begins in the second, Buffalo could find great value at that position with the No. 54 overall pick. The Bills added Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines at that position in free agency, but McDermott loves competition. NFL analyst Jim Nagy thinks a good fit should be available for the Bills in the second round if they choose to take a corner.
"There's a glut of names," Nagy said. "Depending on which team you talk to the order is all over the place. You can stick them in a hat or throw darts at a board. They're all good players and it just depends if they fit your culture and your scheme. Jeff Gladney from TCU was supposed to come down for the Senior Bowl but got hurt. He had an injury late in the year that had to get fixed. He's super competitive, really good ball skills. There's a number of them. Kristian Fulton from LSU, A.J. Terrell from Clemson who Dabo Swinney told me he's the best one he's ever had. Without talking to the guys in Buffalo, I think there will be one available that they won't have to trade up for."
7. These picks could give Buffalo the push it needs in 2020
The seven picks Buffalo has in this draft is not a large number, but Beane and his staff will find talented players who can add to the talent-base of the team. Buffalo addressed their most important needs in free agency which gives them the freedom to pick the best available in the first three rounds of the draft.
Beane said this could be the year where it makes sense to part ways with a first-rounder due to the uncertainty of the offseason. Regardless, NFL analyst Jim Nagy thinks the best picks can be found in the second and third rounds. Thankfully the Bills have a pick in each of those rounds.
"The meat of the draft is in the second and third rounds," Nagy said. "I've talked to a bunch of GMs that are actually looking to move out of the first round because, and I agree with this, I feel like you can get the same player in the 40s and 50s that you can get in the 20s."
Due to their efforts in free agency and the potential in the NFL Draft, lots of analysts have their eyes on the Bills as a team that can contend for the AFC East title this season.
"I like the Buffalo Bills, man do I like the Buffalo Bills," Deion Sanders said. "Defensively they are in the top three or four amongst the league. Then you go out there and you add a Stefon Diggs, then you throw in a Josh Norman to coincide with Tre'Davious White who is arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the game."
As the pieces of the potential roster come together in this draft, it's exhilarating to think about what the team is capable of in 2020. These picks could add to what Buffalo needs to be a playoff contender year after year.