After trading up on night one for cornerback Kaiir Elam, the trades continued for the Bills on night two of the 2022 NFL Draft.
In the second round, Brandon Beane traded back not once but twice and picked up two additional sixth-round picks (No. 180 and No. 209). The trade on Thursday night played into the decision to move back.
"We had several guys in that area that we liked at positions of need," Beane told the media. "So, we just said let's add a few picks here to kind of just slide down, see who's still there, and a couple of other people called. … Knowing I didn't have a fourth, trying to add some assets, just to see how tomorrow falls, you never know how your board is going to look. Wish we had the fourth, we don't, but we got some late ones, and we'll see how it plays out."
Beane and the Bills' front office selected two players on day two – running back James Cook in the second round (No. 63 overall) and linebacker Terrel Bernard in the third round (No. 89 overall). Here's what we learned from the moves that were made and the players acquired on day two of the NFL Draft.
The reason James Cook wanted to come to Buffalo
Running back James Cook out of Georgia is coming off a season when he won the CFP Championship Game over Alabama. He's reached the highest point you can in college football and now he's looking to do the same in the NFL.
Beane told the media that he loved how instinctive Cook was in the passing game and how that element can add so much to the Bills' offense. In his college career, Cook had 67 receptions for 730 yards and six receiving touchdowns. With what the Georgia running back can add to the passing attack, he's excited to have Josh Allen as a new teammate.
"I really wanted to play with Josh Allen," Cook said shortly after being drafted. "That's a good fit for me. He's a great quarterback coming up in the league, he's a franchise quarterback. So, I'm just looking to build, get in the building, and get ready to work. … I'm just blessed just to get in the right system and get around the right group of guys. I'm just ready to get ready to work and be a good leader."
How Cook will be used in the Bills' offense
As explosive as the Bills' offense has been the past few seasons, they have been missing a speedy pass-catching running back. Buffalo addressed that on Friday with the selection of Cook. The electric runner knows exactly what he can add to the Bills' offensive attack.
"I'm versatile," Cook said. "I can separate myself in the backfield and line up out wide and make the deep threats. And take the deep shots and go deep and score touchdowns. That's what they're getting in me - a touchdown maker."
Earlier this offseason, the Bills attempted to get that pass-catching running back when they tried to sign J.D. McKissic. That element in the offense is crucial if that side of the ball wants to take a step forward under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey in 2022. Beane believes that the addition of Cook is like adding another wide receiver in the backfield.
"We see his best skill set as a sub back, but I think he can handle carries too if we want to give him some more carries, but we really liked his skill set," Beane said. "Again, similar to the one we saw with McKissic, a guy that's got really good hands, very instinctive in the passing game. You can run all sorts of guys out in routes, it's not that they can't do it, but some guys just have the feel like a slot receiver.
"It's the feel of what you're getting whether to sit down in zone or run by your man. He's got speed and if he gets a crease, you saw it. I watched a lot of Georgia football last year just because they were so good, saw him play live twice. You can feel his speed with a ball in his hand."
Scroll through to view photos of RB James Cook, Buffalo's pick in the second round, 63rd overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
One area where the Bills' offense can improve in 2022
The Bills' offense has broken team and NFL records the past two seasons and has been a major reason for the success of the team. One area where they could improve this season is yards after the catch. According to NBC Sports, the Bills ranked 20th in YAC yards in 2021 which is below two teams in their own division (Patriots, Jets).
Beane knows that a player like Cook brings the YAC yards and bigger chunk plays to Josh Allen and the Bills' offense. Cook has the ability to make a guy miss and the speed to take it all the way.
"If you're gonna pick on our offense a little bit, that's probably one of the things you could pick on is some chunk RAC plays," Beane explained. "Get it in somebody's hand, a receiver, running back tight end, whatever it is. And that was an area, especially from the running back position that we thought we could improve. And again, I mentioned targeting McKissic that didn't work. This guy, (Cook) we think fits that mold."
Where Beane sees Bernard fit in this Bills' defense
Linebacker Terrel Bernard has the position versatility that the Bills' coaches covet. At Baylor, the Bills' third-round draft pick played both inside and outside at linebacker. In his last collegiate game, he took home Sugar Bowl MVP honors after tying a Sugar Bowl record with 20 tackles and two sacks to help Baylor win the bowl game.
To have a depth player that can move around and fill in wherever he's needed is one of the reasons they drafted him in the third round. Beane is excited to see where the coaches find the best fit for him.
"He's played both at Baylor, for us I'll let the coaches ultimately determine it, but he can play both - he can play inside or play out," Beane shared. "He really could. Super smart, he's going to be undersized. He's not going to be your prototype size. If he's playing Mike, he's going to be the opposite of what Tremaine looks like inside, but we do think he can do both. We like his versatility, super instinctive.
"You can blitz anybody, but he's got a feel for it, a knack for it, similar to our safeties the way they do. He's a fun player to watch. If you're criticizing him, he's an undersized linebacker but I like his ability to match up in the passing game if he's at the Will. He'll just come in here and have to compete and we'll see where his best fit is, but my guess is maybe he bounces around a little bit."
Bernard has modeled his game after this Buffalo Bill
First-round pick Kaiir Elam told the media that he's looked up to Tre'Davious White and now with be able to learn under him. It's similar for Terrel Bernard how he's modeled his game after linebacker Matt Milano.
"I think you've seen a shift within the last few years of the NFL, kind of the run-and-chase style, the more coverage aspect to combat the passing game now," Bernard said. "But it's been crazy being able to just model my game after guys like Matt Milano. He's probably one of my favorite players that I've been studying off this whole process, so having the opportunity to learn from guys like him is gonna be amazing."
Bernard has been watching Milano throughout his entire college career and he's been able to pick up a lot from his playing style. Along with Elam, these young players can learn from players they have been admiring for years. Having that opportunity is special and can only make these young players better on and off the field.
"I think the first thing that pops out is his instincts and just how active he is on the field," Bernard added. "I try to watch a lot of different types of linebackers and he's one that immediately stuck out to me and somebody that I figured that I could try to model my game after. So, it's kind of weird, but really this whole process he's the guy that I've been watching and studying pretty closely."
With the 2022 NFL Draft underway, scroll through to keep track of Buffalo's newest players. Presented by Caesars Sportsbook