Bills Today

Bills Today: How the Bills are overcoming absence of pre-draft visits


1. How the Bills are overcoming absence of pre-draft visits

With the current Covid-19 pandemic closing NFL team facilities and taking pre-draft visits by college prospects off the table, NFL clubs have been forced to find ways around the health crisis restrictions.

Bills GM Brandon Beane and his personnel department have taken progressive steps to still cover all their bases in acquiring the necessary information on each and every prospect in the draft pool.

"We're just doing it different," said Beane. "(Our staff) is very busy. We're doing a lot of zoom calls with our coaches and trying to connect with these college players whatever way possible and try to fill in as many holes as we can."

The video conference meeting with a player has a one-hour time limit, with teams allowed up to three such meetings with a player per week, but there is a valuable element to this kind of a meeting if Beane isn't conducting it himself.

"Our coaches have really done a good job. The cool thing is they can record these sessions, so even if I'm not on one I can go back and watch our offensive line coach with a prospective lineman for example and watch their interaction," Beane said in an appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550. "In that time you can watch and our guys will teach them something and at some point they'll talk through some things and circle back and quiz and see what they know. Can they learn? What can they be taught in a certain amount of time?"

Any personnel executive will tell you that the medical evaluations are the most critical piece of information, but for those prospects who were not invited to the NFL combine, tracking down that information has required some extra leg work.

"Medically, my training staff, Nate Breske and his crew were trying to research guys who didn't go to the combine, or guys that would've been going to the medical rechecks," said Beane. "Where are they at? Can we get some MRIs of a guy's foot or shoulder so we have the best data possible? Is it perfect? No, but nobody is dealing in a perfect world right now, football or otherwise with what we're dealing with."

This time of year Beane is meeting with his college scouting staff on a daily basis over the final few weeks leading up to draft day. Again, with their facility shuttered Beane has turned to meeting online which requires different methods to get some of the same work done that's usually done in person.

"We've had to restructure our draft meetings," he said. "Right now every day I'm meeting with my college scouts on these zoom calls. Not as much group film as we would do in our draft room. We're divvying it up and separating on that and then getting back together on these conference calls afterwards."

2. What Sal Paolantonio thinks the Bills must land in 2020 NFL draft

ESPN NFL reporter and host of 'NFL Matchup,' Sal Paolantonio addressed a number of NFL related topics in a recent appearance on ‘One Bills Live,’ from the fate of the NFL offseason, to the Bills being the favorite in the AFC East.

'Sal Pal' also addressed what he feels Buffalo must acquire talent-wise in the 2020 NFL draft to put their offense over the top in the wake of the Stefon Digg trade.

"If I were Buffalo, I would try to find the best tight end and a pass catching running back in this draft," Paolantonio said. "I think now that you have (John) Brown and Diggs, you have that home-run threat. Now you have to give (Josh) Allen the opportunity to get rid of the football quickly when teams blitz him, so that he doesn't have to rely so much on his legs to get out of trouble, especially on third down. He needs a chain mover. A big target who can catch the football. (Dawson) Knox was good, but they need a big body, big radius guy. They need a Gronkowski, so when Allen throws it up there, somebody with big mitts and long arms who's strong comes down with it and moves the chains."

3. Three of four All-Decade Team running backs have Bills ties

The NFL in conjunction with the Pro Football Hall of Fame released its All-Decade team from 2010-2019 and the Bills were well represented at the running back position.

Three of the four ball carriers had spent at least a portion of their careers with the Bills. Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy were all named to the All-Decade team along with Adrian Peterson.

Gore spent the most recent season of his long and storied career with Buffalo in 2019. Lynch was a first-round pick of the Bills in 2007 and played his first four NFL seasons with the Bills posting a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

McCoy also logged four seasons with Buffalo after he was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in 2015. He had an 1,100 and 1,200-yard rushing seasons over his first two years with the Bills.

McCoy finished the decade as the league's leading rusher with 10,434 yards and second in rushing touchdowns with 69, with Peterson managing just two more (71).

After McCoy, Gore was second in total rushing yards for the decade (9,786), Peterson third (9,732) and Lynch was fourth (7,812)

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