Buffalo Bills NFL Draft Results: Changing the Culture

Nov 12, 2016; Honolulu, HI, USA; Boise State Broncos linebacker Tanner Vallejo (20) pulls down Hawaii Warriors tight end Dakota Torres (86) during the first quarter of the college football game at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2016; Honolulu, HI, USA; Boise State Broncos linebacker Tanner Vallejo (20) pulls down Hawaii Warriors tight end Dakota Torres (86) during the first quarter of the college football game at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports /

The Buffalo Bills entered this weekend with 6 draft picks and left with 6 players and an extra draft pick in 2018. Those are numbers, but what they accomplished was cultural.

The Buffalo Bills are in a time of change. This isn’t a new concept for Bills fans who have seen a carousel of coaches, presidents and general managers pass through One Bills Drive lately.

There have been every type of coach and GM you can imagine, so it’s not that we haven’t tried. From the completely plain Dick Jauron, to the overly enthusiastic Rex Ryan, the Bills have tried everything.

The 2017 NFL Draft marked the introduction of Sean McDermott. The draft is a place with no salary cap and equal shots to build a locker room. Sean McDermott has a clear vision and path. He wants high character, hard working players who have attention to detail — like him. This draft was about adding to that and avoiding risk.

Like a good stock portfolio, the Buffalo Bills hedged their bets on virtually every selection. All 6 players may be special teams contributors this season, even if they can’t start at their positions. Much like every free agent signee thus far under McDermott.

Like all teams, the Bills had some weaknesses heading into the draft. In the end they selected a Cornerback, Wide Receiver, Offensive Lineman, Quarterback and two Linebackers. Did we miss any pre-draft needs? If so, they walked out with an additional 1st round pick for 2018.

In Round 1, the Bills were facing the choice of immense talents with OJ Howard, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Reuban Foster still available. Their choice? Trade back, way back, and add to their investment portfolio with a 1st round pick in 2018 and 3rd round pick this year.

With that trade, the entire draft was set just how the Buffalo Bills wanted it. They had more assets and a hope on the horizon with two 1st round picks in 2018.

Fans always love knowing that their team has extra picks for the next draft. It’s the draft equivalent of the backup quarterback, you just never know what is waiting and you will always have ‘hope’.

The Bills did end up taking a 1st round selection, in Cornerback Tre’Davious White from LSU. Immediately you see his highlight reel after he is selected and there he is not only playing defense, but also special teams and returning punts. Add to that, he is a team captain and wore #18 at LSU, which is an honor. High character and versatile player. These are the new Buffalo Bills.

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In Round 2, the Bills selected Zay Jones from East Carolina. Jones might not be the most talented WR in the draft, but he is the most productive. Jones set an FBS record for receptions. His selection wasn’t just about what he did on the field, but his work ethic off the field. The Bills WR coach held the same positon last year at East Carolina. The Bills know who they are adding, and it isn’t just his production, it’s his culture.

One thing Doug Whaley has always done is find talent that fits the coaches schemes. Say what you want about the results, but the talent Whaley has assembled in Buffalo is amazing. With their Round 3 pick, they traded up back into the second round and selected Offensive Lineman Dion Dawkins from Temple. Dawkins is a 3 year starter who has experience in a zone-blocking running scheme.

He could push current Right Tackle Jordan Mills into a reserve role. The Bills got rid of two of their four Round 5 picks in the trade-up.

On Day 3, the Bills took a Quarterback who set records at Pittsburgh, the same school Dan Marino attended. They also added linebackers who excel on special teams, which fits the continued versatility theme in Buffalo.

All the players selected faced some sort of adversity and overcame it. All of them will not only bring high character to the locker room, but they are all bringing competition to established veterans on the roster.

Stephon Gilmore left and we assumed that this was Kevon Seymour’s opportunity, and it still could be. Yet here comes Tre’Davious White, who will also push for Brandon Tate’s return roles.

Zay Jones will instantly compete with Andre Holmes for the WR2 position. Just because he doesn’t have NFL experience, his experience with the WR Coach may make the translation quick enough for him to compete from the start.

Dion Dawkins could be a guard or a tackle. Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kuondijo and Jordan Mills all have great traits, but all have serious flaws that allows Dawkins to have a legitimate chance to start at Right Tackle.

Matt Milano from Boston College comes to the Bills having played multiple Linebacker spots in college. He also has blocked multiple punts on special teams. Taking a player who played the same position Luke Kuechly did in college is probably something McDermott can work with.

Nathan Peterman is considered by some as the most NFL ready quarterback to come out of this draft. Barring injury, Tyrod Taylor is starting in 2017. Cardale Jones and TJ Yates are different stories. This coaching staff doesn’t know Jones and if his development isn’t at a point where they want it, he will be cut or traded.

If Peterman picks up the offense fast enough, he may be the backup QB and Yates back to the free agent market.

Tanner Vallejo is a player that fought through injuries at Boise St, but still has special teams experience in college to help transition to the NFL. He too can play multiple linebacker positions.

In summary, these picks all mirror the work done in free agency. The best players will play, period. It doesn’t mean that if you are the best linebacker, that you won’t be called upon to contribute to special teams in a time of need.

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I don’t know who made the selections during the draft. We got on-field clones of McDermott’s work ethic, so maybe him. Yet we saw multiple trades and addressing of specific needs and player types that Whaley would find for his coach, so maybe he did it.

I don’t care. What I want is commitment to something. I like what McDermott preaches and I like the talent Whaley can find. In this draft I love just about every pick and I love the stories of each of these players. They are adding competition, at every level of the team.

There isn’t a safe player on this roster. Tyrod Taylor is playing year to year at this point. Sammy Watkins 5th year option doesn’t sound like it will be picked up. Developmental spots like that of Cardale Jones are being threatened without enough development. The message has been sent, if you are on the Bills roster, you have to fight.

If winning the offseason means winning games during the season, then the Buffalo Bills energy level and focus in OTAs and training camp will lead to many wins. I am not saying it will happen, but I want to see where this leads.

I want to see this competition approach for more than 1-3 years too. This draft isn’t about players, it’s about culture and WHO these guys are, not just what they bring on the field.

And no matter what takes place in September through January, this draft has already given us ‘hope’ for 2018 and beyond.

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What did YOU think of the Buffalo Bills‘ draft? Leave your thoughts below!