Analysis, Commentary

Bills’ NFL Draft Picks Never Dull

Featured Photo Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

As I See It.

The 2024 NFL Draft, set for April 25-27 in Detroit, is arguably the most important Bills draft in the (GM) Brandon Beane (HC) Sean McDermott era. The Bills have, in my opinion, done an impressive job of resigning some players and free agents despite the worst Salary Cap burden in the entire NFL at the starting line.

The latest is an unexpected bomb. The Bills have agreed to terms with former Washington Commanders WR Curtis Samuel to a 3-year, $24 m deal according to ESPN. Adam Shefter reports the deal includes $15m guaranteed. The Bills know him well. Brandon Beane helped draft Samuel in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft, and Bills OC Joe Brady coached him one year at Carolina.

Although Samuel is listed as a WR, he doubles as a running back. He scored 29 TD’s as a RB with Washington and Carolina, and ran an eye-popping 4.31 40 at the 2017 Combine. As both a running and receiving threat, Samuel gives Allen one more aspect of an explosive and balanced offense. He’s only 27, and a solid 5-11, 195 pounds.

Adding Samuel probably gives the Bills more flexibility in the draft, although we shouldn’t just assume he’ll take over the #2 spot that Gabe Davis held. I’d be surprised if the Bills don’t use one of their first 2-3 picks on a WR.

Right here I’d like to mention my sponsor, Atwal Eye Care, the Bills official vision specialist. They did cataract surgery on both my eyes last summer and the result was simply amazing.

To the Bills look ahead:

We’re talking a total cap number of $255 million per team, and the Bills are over that. For now. Two of the additions aren’t household “names”, but the Bills have received positive reviews for signing LB Nick Morrow and WR Mack Hollins. Both have been starters, and they bring some experience. They had choices, but both said the Bills’ “winning culture” was the difference.

Beane could never have done this without the help of several players, including Josh Allen, Von Miller, Stefon Diggs, Dion Dawkins, Rasul Douglas, and Dawson Knox, who agreed to have their contracts restructured. They don’t “lose” money, but owner Terry Pegula will eat some of the up front money if it comes to that. Many NFL owners aren’t willing to take that step.

Still, there is little margin for error in the 2024 draft, as the Bills go in with 11 picks, with their first round choice currently at #28. No way Beane will draft all 11 picks, but he will use some of them to improve position if he sees a player he covets still reachable without a huge cost. He’s traded up in virtually every draft, and the move up to #7 in 2018 was the most noticeable, as he grabbed Josh Allen to build around.

The pick of Allen, who had no star rating out of hs and found Wyoming his only dance partner, was not a given. He had the size, arm and physical attributes teams kill for, but for every great play, he had a bad one. But the Bills saw what he COULD be, and he’s that and more, and he’s just 28 years old.

Beane/McDermott had hoped they could win a Super Bowl or two before Allen reached his second contract, but it didn’t work out that way. Now, it’s much tougher, because Allen’s $ makes a huge dent in the Bills’ spending power. The Chiefs were in a similar position, and did get one with Patrick Mahomes on his rookie deal, but some shrewd drafts and trades – and the amazing play of Mahomes – turned into two more SB’s and a dynasty the Bills can’t quite catch.

But to me the gap is narrowing. The 27-24 playoff loss could easily have been a W, and that Chiefs team then beat an excellent Ravens team in Baltimore and outstanding 49ers team to win Super Bowl 58. But it isn’t done until it’s done. The Bills have beaten the Chiefs 3 straight times at Arrowhead in the regular season, but the Chiefs remain the target for Buffalo and 30 other teams.

The Chiefs, much like the Bills, had to part with some veteran talent and hope their younger players and draft picks – especially on D – could pick up the slack. Did they ever, especially on defense. Several rookies jumped right in, and Chiefs HC Andy Reid has never shied away from using rookies, which Sean McDermott has not been willing to do. He now has little choice.

Defense is where the Bills have to hit in this draft, with starting safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer gone. Veteran CB Tre White was also released, but the Bills haven’t given up yet on 2022 first round pick, CB Kaiir Elam. Although Elam is considered a “bust” by many, the 2022 draft actually panned out pretty well. RB James Cook came in the 2nd round, starting LB Terrel Bernard in the 3rd, rising star WR Khalil Shakir in the 5th, and starting CB Christian Benford in the 6th round.

Photo by © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via, LLC.

In 2023, the Bills hit a home run with #1 pick TE Dalton Kincaid, and 2nd round pick O’Cyrus Torrence, or “Cybo” to his teammates, had an impressive rookie season. He started every game at right guard, and will be a fixture there for the next decade. LB Dorian Williams, a 3rd rounder, is fast and physical but needs a bit more experience to be a full time starter. 5th round pick, WR Justin Shorter, is still in play after sitting out the entire season. He’s healthy now and has talent as a former 5-star HS recruit.

The Bills would love to have the success of their 1987 draft, which came just as Jim Kelly was all but forced to join the Bills when the USFL folded. In that draft, the Bills took all-Pro LB Shane Conlan 8th overall in the 1st round, all-Pro CB Nate Odoms in the 2nd, starting FB Jamie Mueller in the 3rd, starting DE Leon Seals in the 4th, starting TE Keith McKellar (he’s the K in K-Gun) in the 9th, and starting RT “House” Ballard in the 11th round. The Bills then added HOFer Thurman Thomas to start the 2nd round of the 1988 draft, made a deal to get LB Cornelius Bennett, and Bruce Smith (‘85 #1 overall) had some company.

Quick reminder why the fans should have NO say in the draft? A majority of Bills fans wanted QB Doug Flutie to be the #1 pick over Smith. No judgement here of course….

Through the years, the Bills drafts have been interesting to say the least. The worst pick ever? None other than DE Aaron Maybin in the 1st round of the 2009 draft. Maybin was an All American at Penn St., but he had a TOTAL of 6 sacks in his entire NFL career with the Bills, Jets and Bengals. DE Erik Flowers, #1 in 2000. He played just one season in Buffalo, then 4 other NFL teams, and had a TOTAL of 5 sacks.

Drafting edge rushers may be, after quarterback, the hardest position to project from college to the pro’s. The Bills may finally be getting their money’s worth from former 2nd round pick A.J. Epenesa, who was just resigned, and Greg Rousseau is due for a big raise shortly. There is hope that Von Miller, who took an $8M shave to stay with the Bills, will approach being the player he was before a torn ACL cost him more than a full season. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but he did get some pressures in the Divisional playoff loss to the Chiefs.

Although Beane has not shied away from trading up in the draft, his job security is such that he doesn’t have to go all in, which happened in 2014 when the Bills new GM Doug Whaley spent TWO #1 picks for WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins was really good when he wasn’t hurt, which was often, and the Bills didn’t recover from that fiasco for awhile.

The scouts don’t get nearly enough credit, and it’s one reason Bill Polian was able to put together the Bills juggernauts of the early 90’s. True, no Lombardi Trophy, but reaching four straight SB’s had never been done, and now the Chiefs have a chance to do that. 

My favorite Bills scout through the years, was Dwight Adams, the Bills Director of Player Personnel in the early 90’s. Adams passed away several years ago, but his heavy Arkansas twang was a thing of beauty when he talked about prospective draft picks to the media.

Adams had a computer for a brain. He knew every player’s height, weight, 40 time, girl friend’s name and favorite movie. We heard the expression “on the hoof” a lot. Adams favorite expression, was that “ya can’t teach speed”. But it would sound like “ya caint (like ain’t) teech spa-eed”.

Things have certainly changed now in evaluating players, not to mention the attention now being given to the NFL Draft. Mel Kiper used to put out a blue book every Spring, and there’s not a sportscaster in the country that didn’t ante up for that book and savor reading all the “inside info” on each player. Kiper is still hangin’ in there, but now the NFL Draft is as big as the Oscars. There must be hundreds of NFL “Mock Drafts”, and they are constantly being updated based on rumors. More likes, hits and views for everybody.

Believe it or not, just about the time the Bills became a member of the NFL in the early 60s, the Bills scouting director kept notes and scraps of paper in a shoe box. Harvey Johnson was the Bills HC and was 2-23-1 in 1968 and then 1971. That’s how the Bills were able to land OJ Simpson. RIP Harvey. That’s it.


Can’t wait.

Thanks again to Atwal Eye Care, and we’ll see you soon.

Editor’s babble: We are blessed to share Ed Kilgore’s thoughts with you on the blog. You may also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed. is sponsored by 26 Shirts

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