Here at Cover 1, we are always trying to dig a little deeper to find possible coaching or prospect connections in free agency or the NFL Draft. We try to connect the dots via coaching relationships and or sometimes schematic ties. The NFL is a large network but it’s comprised of guys, who a lot of the time, rely on their connections and prior dealings when making decisions.
This regime has been adamant about not only knowing the blueprint about a player on the field, but they also want to know their fit off the field. One of the ways to gauge that is through meeting with players personally. One opportunity for this to occur is during draft season at events such as the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and official visits.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane played a crucial role in constructing the Panthers’ draft boards during his tenure in Carolina. Beane was the assistant general manager to Dave Gettleman in 2015- 2016, but was also director of football operations from 2008-2014.
Current Assistant General Manager Joe Schoen was in Miami as the director of player personnel from 2014-2017, but more importantly, before that promotion, he was the team’s national scout.
Dennis Hickey, Bills senior college scout, was the general manager of the Dolphins from 2014-2015, so he and Schoen have had a close working relationship over the years.
What does this all mean? As free agency drops, players that are at the end of their first contracts or simply on the market entered the league in and around the time Beane, Schoen and Hickey were heavily involved in the scouting side of the house.
With the free agency tampering period about to drop, I went back to analyze visits by prospects (between 2013-2016) to the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins to see if there were any connections. To see if any of the players met with Bills front office personnel as they were coming into the league to maybe get a sense if they will be a target as free agency opens. The data was compiled via WalterFootball.com and SBNation.com.
Met with the Panthers and Dolphins:
- Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State (Private Visit with Panthers and Dolphins)
- Kayvon Webster, DB, South Florida (Private Visit with Panthers and Dolphins)
- WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami (FL) (Private Workout with Panthers and Dolphins)
Met with Panthers:
- Pierre Desir, DB, Lindenwood (Pro Day)
- Xavier Grimble, TE, USC (Pro Day)
- Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana (Private Visit)
- Jason Verrett, DB, TCU (Private Visit)
- WR/RB Ty Montgomery, Stanford (Private Visit)
- DE/OLB Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky (Private Workout)
- RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana (Private Visit)
- DE Mario Edwards Jr, Florida State (Private Workout)
- D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama (Private Visit)
Met with Dolphins:
- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (Unknown type of visit)
- Kayvon Webster, CB, USF (Unknown type of visit, also had FA visit with Bills in ’18)
- Ja’wuan James, tackle, Tennessee (Private Visit)
- Donte Moncrief, wide receiver, Ole Miss (Private Visit)
- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (Unknown type of visit)
- Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (Private Visit)
- Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (Private Visit)*
- Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (Private Visit)*
Not every visit is announced, so this list isn’t complete, but it may give us a sense of targets given the Front Office’s history.