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Top 7 final observations from the Buffalo Bills NFL Draft | 2024

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🆕 1. A new approach

Bills general manager, Brandon Beane had a history of moving up in round one to secure his first player, having done so in three of the five drafts he's overseen when Buffalo had a first-round pick, including the last two. But lacking much draft capital on the first two days of the draft and needing an influx of youth for the roster, Beane took a different approach.

Staying patient in watching how the board unfolded on night one, it became evident that there would not be suitable player value for their pick at 28. So, Beane elected to slide back four spots from 28 to 32 in a trade with Kansas City.

The Bills landed a third-round pick at 95th overall from Kansas City in exchange for their fourth, 38 picks later (No. 128), and a swap of seventh-round picks in which they moved up 27 slots, almost another full round, from 248 to 221.

"We were checking the whole night around our area and back, and we were just following the board," said Beane. "Obviously, we came into this draft without a (third-round pick), and we were able to get ourselves back into the third and felt like there would be some value there."

Instead of having just one pick on day two of the draft, Buffalo now had three to work with.

Beane intended to pick at 32, but former Bills Assistant GM Dan Morgan, now the general manager for Carolina, called Buffalo's GM and presented an offer in which Buffalo could move up 59 picks from Round 6 (No. 200) to Round 5 (No. 141) just to move back one spot from pick 32 to pick 33.

Suddenly, the Bills had four fifth-round picks, giving them a great deal of maneuverability power for day three of the draft.

"It made sense to go back one and get the pole position (on day two)," said Beane. "And we knew no matter who Carolina was going to take at 32 we still felt there was some good value on the board at 33 which was the first one Friday. So, it made sense to do that."

Beane's plan proved fruitful as he addressed Buffalo's primary positional need on offense, landing a big-bodied outside receiver in Florida State's Keon Coleman.

Scroll to see photos of Keon Coleman, Cole Bishop, and DeWayne Carter as they arrive for their first day as Buffalo Bills.

❌ 2. X-factor

It was clear that Buffalo not only needed to add at the receiver position, but they also needed size. Free agent acquisition, Mack Hollins was the only wideout on the roster with NFL regular season game experience who stood more than six feet tall.

Enter Bills top draft choice, Keon Coleman, who at 6-4 and 213 pounds will provide an outside presence in Buffalo's passing game.

"Just big, physical, size," said Beane. "He plays above the rim. For a big guy he drops his weight. A lot of times bigger guys have some stiffness. He really drops his weight top of the route and gets separation. He uses his body position, obviously wingspan, contested catches, all those things. He's got some run-after-catch ability too. He'll help us a lot. He's a big body, when teams want to lean on him and when we run the ball, too."

"I feel like I'm a guy that can play the 'X' position," said Coleman. "I can move around on the offense. I think I can pick up information fairly quickly. I'm a great guy outside of just a football player. A guy that's going to come in and just work hard, be held accountable and ultimately do what they drafted me to do -- make some plays and get on that field."

Coleman's quarterback at Florida State, Jordan Travis, called the Bills top pick a quarterback's best friend, primarily because he can be a big help on an off-script play.

"I've played with numerous quarterbacks who can keep plays alive," said Coleman in direct reference to Josh Allen. "You're not always open every time there's a drop back. Sometimes the D-end gets back there. But to be able to have that ability to stay quarterback friendly, stay on the same side of the field, get across the field, stay in his vision and be able to be a big target, use my size and frame to shed the defender and give him a reliable throw.

"I'm his best friend because he's running for his life away from guys that are 270 pounds. He doesn't want to get hit or throw it away. He'd rather somebody is catching that. It's a big thing. I take pride in that. The scramble drill is an actual play."

👨‍🎓 3. Captain my captain

It has been a running theme for Buffalo's personnel department during the Beane-McDermott era. The Bills are always seeking players that demonstrate leadership qualities. Not surprisingly, a good number of their draft choices in recent years have served their college programs as team captains.

Buffalo drafted three captains in their 2021 class, and then three more in their 2022 class (Terrel Bernard, Khalil Shakir, Baylon Spector).

Buffalo's 2024 draft class again reflects the targeting of leadership types. Third-round pick DT DeWayne Carter was the first ever three-time team captain at Duke. He understands he'll be working with grown men now and doesn't need to lead, but he's certainly equipped to become a leader a few years from now.

"I'm always about learning," said Carter. "I feel like, learning, you've got to be a really good listener, right? And that's something I learned at a young age, and so my leadership style always starts there. Day one I'm going to come in there, trying to listen and learn from all the vets. And then I would describe my leadership style as not a one size fits all, because at the end of the day, if you don't really know your teammates or the people you're working with, how can you possibly be a leader if you don't know what one person requires."

Two of their fifth-round picks, LB Edefuan Ulofoshio, and C-G Sedrick Van Pran-Granger were also team captains. Ulofoshio for last season's national runner up Washington squad. Van Pran-Granger was a two-year captain at Georgia including for their repeat national championship squad in 2022.

"We are a team in transition," said Beane. "So, we do want to have an edge in as many areas as we can, but we also want leaders. Smart, tough, dependable guys who are pros. And I think we've had a good blend of that in this draft."

With four team captains in this year's class, Buffalo has now drafted at least three captains in three of their last four draft classes.

🏈 4. Senior Bowl leanings

Over the last several drafts the Bills have demonstrated an affinity for prospects at the Senior Bowl. From Josh Allen to Tyler Bass, Buffalo has often leaned in the direction of Senior Bowl prospects as they gain additional information on the skill sets of those players as well as their character background.

In this year's 10-player draft class, five of their players participated in the Senior Bowl. Cole Bishop, DeWayne Carter, Ray Davis, Edefuan Ulofoshio, and Javon Solomon were all in Mobile at the end of January.

"I think if you go back and look, we've found a lot of players at the Senior Bowl," said Beane. "I love it. It's an early chance to meet some of these guys. I got to meet Cole (Bishop) and (DeWayne) Carter and they stood out as pros. It's a chance to see guys live that I may have missed to at least see them in practice. See them go against guys at their level. (Javon) Solomon was another one. So, I love the Senior Bowl. That's why I make sure I'm down there every year."

Buffalo also drafted two players who participated in the East-West Shrine game in CB Daequan Hardy and OT Tylan Grable.

🏃💪 5. Day 3 depth

Armed with seven picks at the beginning of day 3 of the NFL draft, Buffalo set out to add depth to their ranks on both sides of the ball. They began by adding an ultra-productive running back in Kentucky's Ray Davis, who had over 1,000 rushing yards for three different college programs (Temple, Vanderbilt, Kentucky) in his college career, to line up behind James Cook and Ty Johnson on the running back depth chart.

Depth in the trenches came next in the form of Van Pran-Granger, who represents depth at center and guard, Central Florida offensive tackle Tylan Grable and international pathway program OL Travis Clayton, who Beane said will begin by lining up at tackle.

Washington LB Edefuan Ulofoshio provided needed linebacker depth after the free agent departure of Tyrel Dodson, and Penn State CB Daequan Hardy represents depth at slot and outside corner.

Edge rusher depth was also acquired when Buffalo utilized their final fifth-round pick on Troy University DE Javon Solomon, who led the nation in sacks with 16 in 2023.

These day three picks combined with S Cole Bishop and DT DeWayne Carter on day two fortified Buffalo's ranks with capable rookies with growth potential while on the job.

"We've really added some depth and some competition, and it should make for some good battles," said Beane. "Hopefully these guys work out the way we think they will. We're excited about who we got."

🎀 6. The ties that bind

The Bills drafted a pair of players who have former college teammates on Buffalo's roster. Second-round pick Cole Bishop lined up in practice against TE Dalton Kincaid for two years at the University of Utah.

GM Brandon Beane, after a conversation with Bishop at the Senior Bowl, cross checked it with his tight end.

"Naturally, you're asking him his relationship with Dalton and things like that, and I said, 'How bad did Dalton abuse you in practice,'" Beane recalled. "And he said, 'No, I got the better of him.' And I said, 'Well, we'll ask Dalton' and so I texted Dalton about him, and he was just raving about him. And I think Dalton called me right after that or Facetimed him at Senior Bowl and he was just like, 'This kid, he's not lying, he got me more than I got him.' He really impressed us throughout the process."

On day 3, the Bills drafted Georgia center, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, who is a former college teammate of Bills RB James Cook, who was his Bulldogs teammate for two years.

"We have a great relationship," said Van Pran-Granger of his bond with Buffalo's feature back. "We talk whenever we can. We both have very busy schedules, but I'm sure I'll talk to him very soon. It was amazing blocking for him. When he got up to the second level, he had the ability to break one loose. It was amazing blocking for James Cook."

That teammate familiarity also helps rookies acclimate to their new professional surroundings. Bishop and Van Pran-Granger will be all too happy to see familiar faces in Buffalo's locker room this spring.

📈 7. Draft capital for 2025

Buffalo went into the 2024 draft with only a pair of picks in the first 100. And while they moved down the board to increase that total, they won't need to make such moves come the 2025 NFL draft.

While they parted with a fifth-round pick in the 2025 draft in the Stefon Diggs trade, they acquired a 2025 second-round pick from the Houston Texans.

On Sunday, they added more draft capital for 2025, picking up a fourth-round pick in a day 3 trade with Chicago, who traded up to Buffalo's pick in round 5 at pick 144.

The Bills now have eight total picks for next year's draft including four in the top 100. They're armed with their first, a pair of seconds, a third, a pair of fourths, and a pair of sixth-round picks.

"We needed to get younger in some areas, we definitely did," said Beane. "We need to keep adding. We know for sure that we've got eight for next year now that we got the future four from Chicago and I love that."

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