The 2017 draft can’t be graded today, or tomorrow or a month from now. It’s going to take years to see if the men selected this weekend made enough of a dent in the Bills to turn the Titanic away from the yearly run in with the iceberg. With that in mind, I want to talk about the strategy and logic behind the picks, which I think is a fair thing to evaluate:
Round 1 – Tre’Davious White
We’ve already discussed the pick itself – but the logic of trading back to 27, getting a third in 2017 and a first in 2018 – then getting White is great. As I mentioned on day one, when I read up on McDermott I assumed he’d go with long and strong dbs in the mid rounds; getting Tre’Davious (I’m on team Joe Buscaglia, spelling his whole name out at all times) – a player that is so aggressive with receivers without getting flagged is outstanding.
The first in 2018 is the thing that makes me tingle a bit. You have the means to go for a quarterback if Tyrod fails; or key pieces that may need to be replaced in free agency otherwise if Tyrod does work out. As it stands, if the Bills don’t exercise the fifth year option on Sammy Watkins, barring a tag of some sort the Clemson wideout would join Richie Incognito, Eric Wood and Kyle Williams as potential free agents. Those picks (minus a 7th rounder that is potentially conditionally traded away to Minnesota) will go a long way in helping re-shape the 2018 Bills. I’ll have more on this – particularly the QB end – in the coming weeks.
Round 2(a) – Zay Jones
Jones’ coach being on the team and having the ability (via extra draft picks in the first trade and the Mike Gillislee signing by New England) to move up to get the wideout from East Carolina before the run began on wide receivers in round 2 was very good by the Bills. While I’m not over the moon per-se with Jones (I was a bigger Juju Smith-Schuster fan) I get the logic behind the why.
Listening to Jones, I heard a young man that was pretty confident and had just as much of an edge to his game as my USC draft bae. Again, another logical pick.
Round 2(b) – Dion Dawkins
Dawkins has gotten some stick on Twitter because of the arrest for fighting outside of a club. For me, that’s a tough one. If it’s domestic abuse, violence of a bullying variety, abusing kids, absolutely that’s a question of character. To get into a fight at a club – without threatening the lives of the other patrons – is sadly par for the course. Getting yourself out of the situation – which Dawkins has done since that run in his freshman year is the key.
On the football side of things he fits as a right tackle or guard prospect – which given the flexibility in the past of Dennison linemen combinations, that would bode quite well for his career in Buffalo.
Round 5(a) – Matt Milano
One of my favorite players in the draft, Matt Milano’s range and ability to see-ball, get-ball is on par with anyone else in the draft at linebacker. The issue that Matt has is, well, size. He’s not the biggest player in the world and for some teams that was a turn-off. For Buffalo, the opportunity lies at Will linebacker, Buffalo Nickel or on special teams. Depending on where Matt is playbook wise, he could do well for himself in the 716.
Round 5(b) – Nathan Peterman
Since the beginning of the draft process, one of my best friends (also a Pitt alum) had joked that Peterman would go to the Bills. At the time, because of the pre-draft hype that began to coalesce around Nathan, it was a bit of a stressor.
In round 5? Perfect. You have a quarterback that is used to a pro-style system, that the ability to sit, learn and push my unicorn Cardale as well as the almost-not-needed vet TJ Yates. And with this new regime (more on that shortly) I don’t have to worry about Nathan being sold as a late round savior as a stopgap marketing ploy to keep the rubes distracted. Again, I get the logic behind the pick and I have no issues.
Round 6 – Tanner Vallejo
The final pick of Sean McDermott’s first draft was another logical selection – and the only original pick the Bills used all weekend. Tanner is another rangy ‘backer that can slide in as special teams help while he learns the ropes. As Sean McDermott has said constantly, anything past that he’ll have to earn the right to do – on field.
The Whaley Question
I think Doug’s a goner; not because of some big draft gaffe, but because, as I’ve mentioned in this whole ordeal, knowing someone well. Most coaches don’t like dealing with inheritance – that is to say, they don’t like to have vestigial parts from other regimes there to get their agendas in. It’s also a weird Bills-ian circle of life that I thought he’d get canned for the Watkins trade, without true ownership oversight and departs in a year where they get an extra first rounder in the next draft. Give and take, I guess.
The Bills, with Whaley and Marrone as well as Whaley and Ryan cited “stealing from a teammate” and “murder” as the things that would push them away from a player. Most notably, two years ago when they drafted Karlos Williams, Ronald Darby and signed Richie Incognito, the thought was that short of those two indiscretions, the shadiness around the Darby and Karlos off-field situations, as well as the general ickiness at the time of Richie Incognito would be forgiven. Under McDermott, the only “questionable” pick out of his nascent class was Dion Dawkins, who was in a fight at a club, which was later dismissed.
I have one simple request Bills brass: if La Canfora is right – just make this a professional breakup. Don’t start the “I heard that this guy decided to go on Tinder on scouting trips” or “Whaley lifted more than he scouted”. It’s okay. Folks don’t work out. And don’t do the thing that Joe H – A – T – E – S . . . which is the “these were Whaley picks” after he’s gone/if he’s gone. And if Doug Whaley is leaking to La Canfora – just let it end. Hearing the Rex Ryan revenge tour from the former GM as well will reflect poorer on the complainee than the (hopefully former) dysfunctional organization he left.
Just own it. If there’s one voice – and Sean McDermott is that voice – own it.