The Bills went into this draft with a list of needs, but none was more glaring than quarterback or linebacker. Heading into the first night of the draft, they seemed in a perfect position to land at least one. Instead, Brandon Beane and co. ended the evening with both their QB and LB of the future by spending some of the assets they acquired over the past year of roster reshaping to move around in the first round.
Round 1 Pick 7: QB Josh Allen
After months of speculation about where the Bills would move up to get their QB, fans sat on the edge of their seats with growing anxiety as each pick went by, worrying about when, if at all, the Bills would make the move up. The move came when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the clock with the 7th pick. Beane should get some credit here for his ability to stay patient and get a deal he felt comfortable with. While the Bills technically overpaid to get from 12 to 7 based on typical trade charts, they waited and were able to hang on to their second pick in the first round. However, it was still a steep price to go up and get Allen, sending both of their second round selections to the Bucs (53rd and 56th picks).
This was damn good recognition and overall coverage by LB Leonard, but that pass was just better by Allen. pic.twitter.com/lMeyxCg1kF— Cover 1 (@Cover1) March 31, 2018
In a class full of polarizing QB prospects, Wyoming’s Josh Allen may be the most polarizing. At 6’5” 237 lbs, Allen has the look that Beane has repeatedly said he would want in a franchise QB. Allen took maybe the most interesting path to get to this point. With zero offers out of high school, he went the junior college route and kept sending tape around the country until somebody took notice, finally being offered a scholarship from Wyoming. The redshirt junior finally got his chance to play FBS football and had very mixed results. While his stats do not pop off the charts, he was able to gain notice with some spectacular plays and displays of natural arm talent.
22 personnel PA strike for a TD vs. possibly quarters coverage.— Cover 1 (@Cover1) January 18, 2018
Safety bites on the post by the TE, WR widens his stem, gets the CB turned around and heads to the post. Props to the WR for the all hands catch.
Allen almost succumbs to the turf monster but he buries the throw. pic.twitter.com/jYiv5oBq0G
Touted as possibly the “biggest arm” many analysts have seen, Allen was able to draw national attention as one of the top prospects in perhaps the most anticipated QB class since the infamous class of 1983. While Allen absolutely has one of the biggest arms in recent memory, he is very much a raw project for the Bills. As both his film and advanced analytics show, he has some work to do to become a viable NFL starter. The Bills’ front office knows this, but they see his potential as worth the risk.
For an in-depth look at Allen, check out his full scouting report here:
Round 1 Pick 16: LB Tremaine Edmunds
While many Bills fans were still trying to wrap their heads around the first pick of the evening, most hadn’t given much thought to the Bills’ strategy at their remaining pick later in the evening. However, that quickly changed when the Beane and co. made their second deal of the night to move up from the 22nd pick to the Ravens’ 16th pick by throwing in the 65th pick (first pick in the 3rd round), which was acquired from the Tyrod Taylor trade. The Bills also got back an additional 5th round pick (154th) from the Ravens.
Edmunds has tremendous range
The reason the Bills pulled the trigger on their second trade of the evening was that Tremaine Edmunds, a 19-year-old physically gifted linebacker prospect from Virginia Tech, was still sitting on the board. The Bills haven’t stated directly where Edmunds is going to play, but during their most recent press conference, HC McDermott stated the following:
“Then you go to the linebacker position with respect to Tremaine and Tanner, and what he has done this offseason. Let’s not lose sight of the guys that are already in that locker room and the work that they’re putting in.”
We are told that Vallejo and newly-signed free agent Julian Stanford had been learning the Mike position early this offseason, so we expect Edmunds to play middle linebacker.
Speed to close
By most big boards and mock drafts, Edmunds was considered a top-ten prospect in the draft, and many debated if he would be the first linebacker to come off the board.
Awareness of the wheel route, and ability to cover it
With Edmunds there at 16, the Bills’ brass saw they had a chance to fill their two biggest needs in the first night of the draft and jumped at the chance to do so.
Can quickly fill vs. the run game
Edmunds is a physical freak, standing at 6’4” and 250 lbs; he ran a 4.53 40 at the scouting combine. When you watch Edmunds, he clearly fits the mold of the “new age linebacker”. The Bills were clearly seeking to continue to build that unit.