Skip to main content

Draft Coverage

Bills GM Brandon Beane reveals some draft strategies and what they're looking for in their next wide receiver


With the draft less than a week away, general manager Brandon Beane and his scouting department are working away on final draft preparations. Beane took a break from all the prep on Thursday to meet with media and discuss their first-round pick, replacing Stefon Diggs and also gave several player updates.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from his press conference.

What Beane is looking for in a wide receiver

The Bills currently have four wide receivers on their active roster – Curtis Samuel, Kahlil Shakir, Mack Hollins and Justin Shorter. That number extends beyond four when you think about the playmakers on their roster, which includes talent like tight ends Dalton Kincaid, Dawson Knox and running back James Cook.

When it comes to replacing the production of former WR1 Stefon Diggs, Beane said this is something that could happen over time.

"You're talking about a guy whose four years here was a No. 1 role, we have not filled a No. 1 role," Beane said about the status of the current roster. "I would say we have a group of guys as we sit here today that we believe bring different skill sets. We like the group. Would we like to add to it at some point? Yes. But I'm not sitting here thinking we have a glaring hole."

BBS-018-2024 Draft Picks 1280x720 1

Beane said he would love to have a true No. 1 wide receiver but what they really need are players who fit the system and fit the team.

"What you need are guys that in this offense who are smart, versatile, selfless, and can make the plays that their skill set allows them to make," Beane shared. "And if it's a tall guy that Josh is gonna throw up a 50/50 ball, and he will come down with it. If it's a guy that we want to get the ball in his hands and when we need some RAC, he's going to do that. I think that's what we're looking for."

Beane added, "If there's a one that pops up either in free agency or the draft that makes sense for us or a really good two, we'll do it. But I don't think not having a one, doesn't mean we can't have success on offense or as a team."

If the Bills decide to look for a wide receiver at No. 28 or beyond in the NFL draft, Beane believes this class has good depth.

"There is a lot of different style receivers from size, speed, quickness," he said. "Some have better hands, some are not great RAC -- they've got good hands, but you're probably not getting much. Some other ones maybe have less size, but if you can get the ball in their hands, they kind of turn into a little bit of a running back."

Draft strategy: Beane's assessment on first-round grades and trading up

Beane and his staff spend tireless hours evaluating each draft class every year. One thing that comes out of the evaluation is the grades they place on players, meaning some prospects have grades which make them talented enough to be drafted in the first round and some have grades outside of the first night of the draft.

This season, the Bills don't have as many first-round grades as there are picks in the first round.

"(We have) more than last year, but not 28," Buffalo's GM said.

That doesn't mean if the Bills stay at 28, they will be drafting someone who doesn't have a first-round grade. Every team has different grades on different players. So, if the Bills stay put at 28, there could be someone with a first-round grade still available to draft that may not have a first-round grade on other teams' draft boards.

When draft night rolls around, teams' phones will start ringing with trade propositions. Some teams will want to move up and some teams will be okay with trading down due to how the first round shakes out. When it comes to Buffalo's phone, Beane doesn't anticipate any teams in the top 10 calling Buffalo. But, there's no rule that states Beane can't call them.

"I wouldn't expect that," Beane said of teams in the top 10 calling Buffalo at No. 28. "Teams in the teens will start calling because maybe they got their eye on a couple guys and if they don't get those, they would as soon add something maybe, depending on what's on the board. We'll assess them all, have conversations, see who's on the board when their picks come up. And, we'll be doing the same.

"We'll also be looking the other way. If we did not draft Dalton (Kincaid) last year, I think we had some options to go back, and one that I really liked that would have put us into the second round, that would have added what I thought was a good asset to do that."

One of the big remaining questions is — would Beane be comfortable trading a future first round pick to move up and get someone?

"I'm never going to say no," Beane said of the question. "I don't love trading future ones."

"I just know there were times in Carolina in some of my younger years where we did trade it and I felt more times we were disappointed later that we did it."

Beane has actually traded a first-round pick before. It was for wide receiver Stefon Diggs who gave them four straight 1,000 yard seasons and had a huge role in helping the team win four AFC East titles in a row.

"We traded for him, and sat through that," Beane said. "If there is something that makes too much sense, heck yeah."

All in all, Beane can't predict what's going to happen on night one but he wants to leave Thursday feeling like they got their guy if he is available.

"If there is a guy I like and I'm confident in, I want to go to bed Thursday night (knowing) that I got him," Beane said. "If that happens again, I could do it. I can't really tell you if we go up, go back or draft at 28. I have no idea how it's going to fall."

Player and coaching updates: La'el Collins, Matt Milano, Tommy Doyle, Greg Rousseau, Micah Hyde and more

While the Bills lost several veteran players via free agency like center Mitch Morse, safety Jordan Poyer, cornerback Tre'Davious White, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, Beane thinks this change doesn't always have to be viewed as a negative.

"Change can be hard when you've had the stability that we've had at some of the positions," Beane said. "A lot of those guys were captains, so, is that uneasy? Yeah, it is. But sometimes your team has to evolve.

"That's probably the best word I can use, and we do feel there are some guys currently on the roster that can ascend into some leadership roles. Is it going to be where the guys that left, left off? No, but hopefully we can grow them and that's part of the development of our organization."

The Bills added offensive lineman La'el Collins to the team just over a week ago. Beane believes the nine-year veteran with 86 starts under his belt will serve as an important depth piece along the line.

"I would think he would come in and provide some depth at right tackle at least and then also interior, wherever we need to have a competition," Beane said. "So, I would say right tackle and then guard."

As players are back in the building for phase one of offseason workouts, there are also players who continue to rehab from injuries. Linebacker Matt Milano (leg) and offensive tackle Tommy Doyle (knee) are two players who are still recovering from injuries that happened last season.

"Tommy Doyle is still rehabbing," Beane said. "Matt's still working through his deal."

Defensive end Greg Rousseau is entering his fourth season in the NFL. The DE has started in 46 games and has 17 sacks in his first three seasons. Since Rousseau was a first-round pick, the Bills have the opportunity to pick up his fifth-year option. Beane said there's nothing official yet on that front.

"As soon as I get done with the draft, that will be first on the docket," Beane shared.

Safety Micah Hyde will be back in Buffalo in about a month for his charity softball game. Beane said he caught up with the veteran via FaceTime recently but doesn't have an update on his future yet.

"He's excited to come back next month after the draft and be around the guys and he was pumped about that," Beane said. "But I can't tell you if he's gonna play again or not. I don't have that concrete answer."

Since it's the offseason, Beane has gotten the opportunity to be around defensive coordinator Bobby Babich and offensive coordinator Joe Brady more because the two aren't prepping for games every week. Buffalo's GM loves what he's seen out of them so far.

"These two guys full of energy, loving the process," Beane shared. "I mean, not all coaches love this process. They just want to get their playbook installed. These two guys, they're in my office asking questions, asking for more guys…but we've had a lot of conversations.

"They've obviously been very involved. Joe went out on the road some too to see some guys from private standpoints, different positions, and he loved it. He loves that process. So it's been fun, the first offseason working with both these guys in their new roles."

Josh Allen's love for the NFL Draft

It's not just Beane, the scouts and the coaches who are grinding prospect tape. You can throw QB1 Josh Allen into that group as well. Allen doesn't watch as much film as the scouts and coaches but according to Beane, he gets excited about who could be sporting blue and red next season.

"Josh loves the draft," Beane said with a smile. "He loves the process…he loves to watch. Now some of the stuff he may be watching is highlights, some of it is maybe cut ups, too. He'll ask about, 'Do you like this guy or this guy?' He may go watch and throw his two cents in. He hasn't done the extensive work that we have. I love that he loves it and likes to hear how we see things."

While Allen won't be calling the shots on Thursday night, Beane does appreciate his quarterback's input.

"Love his input, love his excitement, for sure," Beane added. "And I'd be stupid to not include him and let him kind of see some of these guys. He was watching film last year. I know he's already been watching film this year on some of these guys since he's been in this week."

Allen also spoke to the media today and shared that he texted a prospect who he liked to Beane on draft day last year. That name was Dalton Kincaid.

Related Content