The speculation on what the Bills will do next with what has become one of the two biggest treasure troves of selections in the 2018 NFL draft has become rampant. Reporters of all kinds approached both GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott at the owners' meetings to press them on their plans for the upcoming draft. The most popular query was if another trade up the board is in the cards to get a shot at one of the top quarterback prospects.
Not surprisingly, the Bills brass left all options on the table leading up to late April. With an event as arbitrary as the NFL draft, predicting what they themselves will do, even with plans and contingency plans in place, is not realistic.
"Whether we stay or move up or move down, I think right now we're in a good position," said McDermott of the team's position at 12th and 22nd in round one. "I think everyone wishes they had the number one pick overall. That makes life a lot easier. Having won the way we did last year impacted where we are now so you work within that. There are opportunities within that to improve our football team."
Beane stated this week that he's very happy sitting at 12 overall in round one knowing their opportunity to draft a far better prospect is enhanced picking nine spots sooner than before the Cordy Glenn trade.
Fully aware of the popular belief that Buffalo, with all their draft capital, will undoubtedly look to move up the board again and into the top 10, or even the top five, Buffalo's GM said such a move would have to make sense in terms of asking price, and the prospect must be a rock-solid option.
"If we trade up there that means we feel really comfortable with what that player could bring to our team," he said. "It is a premium to trade into the top five. So that means we'd feel real good about who that was."
Beane didn't dismiss the possibility of even parting with their first-round pick in 2019 if it ensured they could significantly enhance the roster with what they would get in return.
"If it makes us a lot better, or it's a player worthy of that, yes," said Beane. "We'll do anything we can to make our roster better. I'm not locked in that I would or I wouldn't. It would have to make sense and would have to be a player that we really felt strongly about to do that."
Several NFL GM's holding picks in the top 10 have expressed a willingness to trade down, but trading out of the top 10 is something most want to avoid.
The suggested solution to that for a team like Buffalo at 12, has been to take a rung-by-rung approach to reaching a desired location near the top of the board. For example, execute a trade with a team in the bottom half of the top 10 to move their first. Then talk trade with a team in the top five with that pick in the top 10 being offered up in a potential deal.
Beane didn't completely dismiss the idea, but clearly doesn't believe it's a wise approach.
"I don't know. That's something that is complex because you'd have to have an agreement in place with both teams to be able to do something like that," he said. "You never say never. If you trade to seven, what if you get stuck there? Then what are you doing? What have you given up to get there? So you'd have to know and have something pre-arranged to do that.
"I'll always listen and be open to anything. Again, I know everybody is assuming we trade up, but we can always go the other way too if it makes sense for us. We're always going to do what's in the best interest of the Bills."
Bills owner and CEO Terry Pegula also gave credence to the possibility that their top pick at 12 may not be automatically devoted to the quarterback position.
"We have AJ (McCarron), Nathan last year, he's grown a lot," Pegula said. "He's a smart young man and a good person. Without tipping our hand in what we're going to do in the draft, we look at all positions, it could be a quarterback, but we're not is as bad a shape as you think we are right now."
Quarterback assumptionsThe speculated trade up into the top 10 has NFL media automatically following with the assumption that the Bills would make such a move to secure one of the top quarterback prospects.
The hype for this quarterback class, which could see as many as six prospects come off the board in round one, has been very high. But does the actual quarterback talent match the publicity it's been getting?
Buffalo's head coach believes so.
"I think it does," he said. "When you look at it, it's an opportunity to get game-changing players at every position. It's a deep draft in that regard and the quarterback position is no different. I'm still going through the work involved at all the different positions, but there are some game-changing players who are going to be high in the first round there."
Beane and the Bills college scouting department have been hard at work getting in front of many of the top quarterback prospects for private workouts and personal interviews, be it at the Senior Bowl, the NFL combine or college pro days.
For any prospects who fell through the cracks, or who had scheduling conflicts, the Bills will work to get them to One Bills Drive for a pre-draft visit. They want to make sure they get enough time with them to know what each of them are about and who they are as people, not just players.
"You have to drill down extremely deep into your research and there's a time commitment with that," said McDermott. "So trying to get that position and all positions right takes time. There is a commitment that way in terms of time and work and resources as well."
"We're going to bring in a lot of guys, but I can't get into specifics," Beane said. "Honestly, we're still lining some of them up. They have a right to say no if they have a full schedule. There are two guys that I know, where we're still working out logistics because they have a lot of other visits going on. It's hard to fit our schedule into theirs. So, we're still working through that."
As for private workouts with quarterbacks, Beane would only provide a number consistent with what has been publicized by the media.
"At least three," he said smiling. "I don't want to get into specifics. I think three have been reported out there, so I'm going to say at least three and stick to that."
Not at any priceBeane said as early in the offseason as the Senior Bowl that he's not going to pay a king's ransom to put themselves in position to get one of the top picks. They will have a set value on what every prospect in the draft pool is worth and if that value doesn't match up with the value being asked of them in a trade, the trade simply won't happen.
It's not all that different from Beane's unwillingness to chase free agents whose market value is out of whack with their value on a player. He similarly will not chase a draft position.
"We're going to do the right thing," said McDermott. "Brandon and I talk every day. That's an ongoing conversation. We talk about where we are and what our next move might be. Whether it's to stay put or whatever it is. It's a great opportunity for us to improve our football team, whatever direction we decide to go.
"It's an exciting time to be around Buffalo and to be a supporter of the Buffalo Bills. We look forward to the work ahead to get to where we need to get to. We're not where we need to be. With hard work and with a supportive fan base, I'm confident we'll get to where we're trying to go."