MOBILE, AL – There are a lot of decisions to be made every offseason by Buffalo's front office. Which players do they re-sign? Which players do they target in free agency? Which prospects do they draft when they're on the clock? But now in their third full offseason together of making Buffalo's roster a solid one, do head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have to alter their approach?
Buffalo's roster has fewer holes than it's had in quite some time. Earning a role as a player has come with a greater degree of difficulty with each passing year. The Bills have the look of a perennial playoff contender.
Does that mean Buffalo's front office has to make a few different considerations when deciding what kinds of players to add to the roster and how many?
For example, many believe the Bills need to add a big target at wide receiver to make their receiving corps more complete. Being a playoff contender now, do they put just a bit more value on a receiver prospect who they grade as more NFL ready that can help right away as a rookie to push the team forward in 2020, or the one with the higher ceiling long term?
"Obviously you do take that into consideration and maybe it's by the position," said Beane while taking in Senior Bowl practices in Mobile. "Do you have leadership enough to grow a guy, or do you need a guy ready to come and play right off the draft board or sign one who could?"
At this point in the pre-draft process Beane and his personnel staff are just trying to evaluate prospects in terms of whether they're draftable, if so where, and if they fit the schemes they're running on offense or defense.
But armed with nine draft picks, it seems unlikely that if they make use of all nine that much more than five or six would make the 53-man roster. And if the Bills determine that to be the case are they better served shifting those assets into a different kind of commodity that can best help them now and down the line?
"It's a good question," said Beane. "I remember in Carolina as our roster got better towards some of those better years we had it was a question of are we going to spend the sixth-round pick on a guy that's really going to make our roster? And so you do weigh that and part of that will be as we get through this process in March and April, how deep is the draft?
"Some of that will come down to medical as well. There will be guys that that we have good grades on that we would like to take and our medical guys have major concerns on them. So you do want to see how deep the draft is before you decide how far you can probably go before you're drafting guys that may never be more than a practice squad guy."
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Making that determination is still a ways off as the Bills personnel department performs their due diligence on every prospect and every free agent out there. But there will come a time where they'll decide how to use draft choices that can't serve the team now and perhaps make a move to land a prospect they feel can make the difference needed to advance in the postseason.
"Ideally you don't want to just draft a guy who the day you draft him you know looking at your depth chart that, barring injury, there's no way that guy is making it, but you do want to add depth," Beane said. "So maybe we use a later asset for a future pick or trade up in this year's draft."
Perhaps the best news is the Bills have a host of assets and options to continue to strengthen their roster. And it'll be up to Beane and McDermott to determine how.