The Buffalo Bills addressed two of their biggest needs in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Time will tell whether former Wyoming star Josh Allen proves to be their long-term answer at quarterback and former Virginia Tech standout Tremaine Edmunds becomes a fixture at linebacker in a defense that has struggled the past three seasons.
‘I think a lot of people were trying to take a lot from us’
What is clear now is that the Bills didn’t have to give up extra first-round picks to move up to land both players — from 12 to seven, in a trade with Tampa Bay, to get Allen, and from 22 to 16, in a trade with Baltimore, to get Edmunds.
“Listen, we liked several of the guys and Josh was definitely one of them that we had targeted,” General manager Brandon Beane told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan during SiriusXM NFL Radio’s coverage of the draft at AT&T Stadium. “And we just tried to figure out as it got close who we could get, where we could get to. We built up the draft capital, but we didn’t just want to throw it all away and I think a lot of people were trying to take a lot from us.
‘They didn’t want to move, so Tampa was kind of the first real landing spot that we found somebody that was acceptable to make a deal with us’
“But we really targeted Denver as the place that we could try and get Josh (at No. 5). Unfortunately, at the time, it worked out for our good fortune. (Georgia defensive end Bradley) Chubb fell, so they took him and I couldn’t blame him. It was a good move by (Broncos GM John) Elway. And then Indy, they were honed in on (Notre Dame guard Quenton) Nelson the whole time. They didn’t want to move, so Tampa was kind of the first real landing spot that we found somebody that was acceptable to make a deal with us.
“It was tight up front and then people were scared to go back too far. We had several teams that, ‘We’re willing to move, but 12 is right on the fringe and it just depends on who’s on the board.’ So we couldn’t chance it anymore with Tampa. We gave them a pretty good amount for the pick, but to get the guy that we had targeted there, we just felt like this was the time to strike.”
‘On the phone, he was very emotional and apologetic, and he was embarrassed’
The Bills had to do additional research before the draft when it was revealed that the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Allen had tweets, posted when he was 15, that contained racial slurs. Afterward, they were satisfied they had the right guy to be the face of their franchise.
“When that transpired through (Thursday) morning, we got back on all our resources, we split up people to call,” Beane said. “Because everything had checked out on Josh and this did not sound like him. And we could not find anybody to anything negative. So we got a hold of his representatives and we set up a call and we just went through everything. The thing I really appreciated, there were some things that he was embarrassed about. On the phone, he was very emotional and apologetic, and he was embarrassed. It’s not an excuse. He didn’t say, ‘Well, I’m 14, 15 (at the time),’ which is legit. It’s one of those things, you live and you learn. It’s a tough lesson or him, but I thought he handled it as well as you can. And he owned up to it and he knows that it’s something that’s not tolerated. And I think he’ll be a better man for it going forward.
‘I’m sure Josh will own up to it to these guys and say, ‘Listen, it was a juvenile thing, it was stupid.”
“(Coach) Sean (McDermott), he did rally up his leadership council, multiple race and things like that. And we have Eddie Yarbrough here, who’s a backup defensive end who was on Wyoming, who knows Josh and he said, ‘That’s not Josh.’ And our guys said, ‘Listen, we understand, it won’t be an issue.’ I’m sure Josh will own up to it to these guys and say, ‘Listen, it was a juvenile thing, it was stupid.’ And I have no doubt, after talking with him (Thursday), and he just got in the building (Friday), that he’ll handle it exactly like a pro, which is what I really think he is.”
Beane said the Bills were surprised they were able to land the 6-5, 253-pound Edmunds, who will fill the hole created by Preston Brown departing for Cincinnati in free agency.
‘You can’t teach size and that’s what we got with both these young men is size’
“We had a hole at linebacker and, to be honest with you, I did not think he’d be there,” the GM said. “We had actually said, if we’re unable to get a quarterback at 12, that was a guy we had targeted, so when it got to 13, 14, we started going, ‘OK, we can probably to this if he falls a little bit,’ and New Orleans jumped up at 14, so that was out. And then Oakland didn’t want to move, but Baltimore was willing to do it and we were really excited to get Tremaine. He’s a great young man, super smart, he’s 19 years old.
“You can’t teach size and that’s what we got with both these young men is size. And playing in the elements, in Buffalo, it does make a difference as the season goes along.”
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