Shortly after the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills would name Brandon Beane their new general manager, which was only a few months after Sean McDermott was named the team's head coach. At his introductory press conference, Beane said that their focus would be to build through the NFL Draft.
This wasn't very surprising and it has almost become cliché as every new general manager seems to say the same thing about building through the NFL Draft. However, Brandon Beane has seemingly kept his word as the Bills had 13 players they drafted start 12 or more games last season.
However, drafting well is only half the equation when building sustained success in the NFL. The second half, and potentially the bigger challenge, is being able to extend these players so they don't leave after their rookie contract.
The reason this is a bigger challenge is that teams have to build a culture that players want to stay in as well as teams have to manage the salary cap so they can retain these players. The Buffalo Bills have done a great job of both.
Ed Oliver the latest example of the Buffalo Bills success through the NFL Draft
There is certainly a debate about whether or not Ed Oliver should have been drafted ninth overall. However, what is not a debate is that he has been a key part of the defensive line the past three seasons and will now remain with the team through the 2027 season after reportedly agreeing to a four-year extension over the weekend.
With the extension for Ed Oliver, the Buffalo Bills have now extended three of their four first round picks since the 2017 NFL Draft with Tremaine Edmunds being the only one that has left after their rookie deal.
When looking past the first round of the draft, the Bills have reached extensions with five of their 10 picks in the first three rounds and extended nine players total in the 29 picks they made from 2017 to 2020. Those nine players include:
- Tre’Davious White (2017)
- Dion Dawkins (2017)
- Matt Milano (2017)
- Josh Allen (2018)
- Taron Johnson (2018)
- Siran Neal (2018)
- Ed Oliver (2019)
- Dawson Knox (2019)
- Tyler Bass (2020)
That total could grow this offseason if the Bills are able to agree to a new deal with A.J. Epenesa or Gabe Davis.
There is no question that the Buffalo Bills haven't gotten every draft pick right but their success has primarily come from the NFL Draft. More important than that, they have been able to keep a lot of the key players to their success, like Josh Allen, Tre'Davious White, and Matt Milano, past that rookie deal which is a testament to the job that Brandon Beane and the front office has done.