ORCHARD PARK – If this is the price the Buffalo Bills must pay for being a perennial playoff participant and occasional Super Bowl contender, then so be it.
Sure, Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane admitted last week that waiting to pick No. 25 overall in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night will test their patience – just as it did picking 30th last year – and they’ll cringe every time a rival team takes a quality player in front of them.
“You have a good season and you’ve got to wait the next year (in the draft),” McDermott said. “I’d rather have it that way.”
He’s not alone. Everyone at One Bills Drive and in BillsMafia wants it that way with the ultimate goal being for the Bills to someday pick in the coveted No. 32 position, meaning they would be defending world champions.
So as the picks come rolling off the board during the first round in Las Vegas and the NFL chronicles it all in an over-the-top television production, Beane – a no-nonsense football man – will be chomping at the bit to do something because as he said, “I’m probably my own worst enemy with patience.”
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Maybe that means it wouldn’t be out of the question that Beane tries to trade up higher in the first round if the opportunity to get a player he loves arises.
“It depends on who the player is,” Beane said of the trade up scenario. “What am I giving up? What’s it going to cost me? What pick is it going to cost me? Is it going to cost me a third-round pick, and how strong do I feel about the third round?”
Or, he could go the other way and trade out of the first round because the value at No. 25 doesn’t match up with the players left on Buffalo’s board at that stage. After all, he said, “I don’t have 32 (players with first-round grades). It’s definitely less.”
Lastly, he could just stay put, make a pick and feel confident that the Bills, as they certainly have in recent years in the first round, will get it right.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll still be able to draft at 25 a player that we have a first-round grade on,” he said. “If it’s getting close to our pick, and I’m going, ‘Man, I don’t think we’re going to, I think we’re going to be dipping in the second round,’ then I’ll try to move back if I can.”
Essentially, the point is that the Bills are in an idyllic situation right now in terms of their roster. Thanks to Beane and his staff’s strong work in free agency, Buffalo could realistically skip this draft and still head into 2022 as the Super Bowl favorite some of the betting entities have already made them.
Just don’t tell that to Beane.
“I’m not comfortable at a lot of positions, I’m truly not,” Beane said, even though that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, something he could have said with a straight face in 2018 and 2019, but not so much now.
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In fact, one could argue that after spending huge money to sign edge rusher Von Miller, to extend the contract of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, to sign, among others, four other defensive linemen (Tim Settle, Shaq Lawson, DaQuan Jones and Jordan Phillips), slot receiver Jamison Crowder, tight end O.J. Howard, and offensive guard Rodger Saffold, Beane has laid down the Super Bowl or bust gantlet in 2022.
“It’s not that, it’s not that, it’s not, it’s not,” Beane said when I posed that very question to him, shaking his head sideways for emphasis. “I get why people would think that, but this is not a one year, we gotta get to the Super Bowl or not.
“No move we made this year was an all-in, you better do it now. We’ve got a plan and we’re gonna stay competitive. That’s my job, but rarely, rarely, rarely, I don’t know a case where I’m gonna say, ‘Let’s push all our chips to the table and let’s do it all right now and don’t worry about the next year.’ That’s not what we’re doing. I promise you.”
I was joking earlier about skipping the entire draft. Now, more than ever, the Bills need to hit on the bulk of their picks this weekend because with so many of their core stars in higher tax brackets, they need to find players who can contribute while doing so on low-level cost-controlled contracts.
Yes, a first-round pick will be costly, but those guys are supposed to be, and if you pick the right one, you can keep him for five years by exercising the fifth-year option available on all first-round picks.
The Bills have had a tremendous track record with that as they used the option on Tre’Davious White, Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds and just Tuesday, Ed Oliver, because all of those picks have panned out quite well.
But where the Bills can really make an impact is with their picks from the second round on, especially in a draft that is considered by those who track these things as high on value after the first round.
It’s a weird year in that there aren’t a group of no-doubt-about-it superstars at the very top of this draft, and it’s the rare year when no one is even really sure who the Jacksonville Jaguars will take No. 1. Part of the reason for this uncertainty is the quarterback class which, at least as it looks right now, is unimpressive.
In the eyes of most teams, maybe all, there may not be a single quarterback worthy of a first-round grade, but we all know that teams will overdraft some of these players like Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral just because they are quarterbacks.
If this happens, it would benefit the Bills because it would push other potential players they covet down the board, possibly into their waiting laps.
“We don’t know where these quarterbacks slot in and where they’ll end up going,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “It provides a lot of intrigue. We might not have those star-stars that we’ve had the last couple years up at the top, but I don’t believe we’re ever had more intrigue than we do this year with this draft.”
You know the Bills’ needs as they’ve been exhaustively analyzed for three months. Cornerback is obvious, wide receiver and running back less obvious, and then adding depth on both lines is never a bad idea.
The beauty for Buffalo is that when the 10-minute clock finally starts ticking, Beane can go in any number of directions and feel pretty good that he’ll be adding a player who can help the Bills’ pursuit of that elusive Super Bowl ring.
“I have a lot of confidence and trust in Brandon and his staff; they work extremely hard and I know we’ll come out with some good players,” McDermott said. “We’re all in this for one reason and that’s to win and win it all.”
Sal Maiorana can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism