Predicting success in the NFL isn’t as straightforward as proponents of analytics would like you to believe. I can remember the day I learned to trust my gut and eyeballs at training camp in 2006 like it was yesterday. Stood with a friend watching the defensive line do drills and kept screwing up the names of our two shiny defensive line rookies – first-round pick John McCargo and fifth-round pick Kyle Williams.
While McCargo moved around like a turtle, Kyle Williams was hustling like a gigantic cheetah. I kept looking at my program. 95 isn’t the first round pick? Taking notes for a post I would later write on the (RIP) Buffalo Bills Message Board, that was the moment in time when I realized it was time to trust my eyes. And gut.
Fast-forward 12 years and you have the evolution for my series, ‘The Intangibles’ on the BillsMafia blog.
So, what do my eyes and gut tell me about the Bills’ draft class this year?
Don’t let Josh Allen distract you from rest of this draft class.
While it’s tempting to focus the majority of our attention on the shiny new quarterback Buffalo drafted with the seventh overall pick, Josh Allen may not be the only rookie from this class who will go down as the franchise’s most significant acquisition in the annals of Bills’ history.
Watching tiny snippets of projected MLB Tremaine Edmunds at rookie camp was all I needed to see to be convinced this guy is a franchise-altering type of player. Many accolades are touted about Edmunds physical stature, which is admittedly freakish in nature.
However imposing his physical traits may be, his maturity, mindset and life experience growing up in an NFL family are at least equally as impressive. When you listen to Edmunds speak, there’s a quiet confidence that goes beyond his barely 20 years of existence. Like other players we’ve seen ‘McBeane’ covet, they come across as “old souls”.
Presumably nickel corner Taron Johnson might not be a household name yet, but stay tuned. The Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year from Weber State was hard to evaluate, like Josh Allen, because he played in a conference with less talent around him. I expect him to become an interception machine this season, and from what I’ve seen on video from his highlights, he’s a tackling machine, something of a lost art among DBs these days.
DT Harrison Phillips, S Siran Neal, OG Wyatt Teller, WR Ray Ray McCloud and WR Austin Proehl will also have a tremendous opportunity to make their mark in Bills’ history. It’s clear from the first two drafts by this regime (Beane’s first but what a debut!) they value the intangibles far more than any other regime in the history of this team.
When this regime talks about having the “right fit”, those aren’t empty words. They have a prototype personality they’re looking for and talent be damned, they will take the guy with the right personality and less physical talent every time.
Despite the fact that the 2018 NFL Draft may have been centered around drafting what is hoped to be the next franchise quarterback, the deft moves made by Brandon Beane to acquire Tremaine Edmunds is evidence this franchise is in good hands. Finally.
However, my gut is screaming at me that there are other jewels surrounding the rough cut diamond the Bills selected at quarterback. Josh Allen might be the answer we’ve all been waiting for. Watching him walk off the field talking with Jim Kelly certainly seemed like an historical moment in Bills’ history.
Stay woke, because this 2018 Bills’ draft class just might surprise some on the back end. Not me!
Editor’s babble: Such a glorious time to be a fan of the Bills and Sabres. It occurred to me while watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night that Jack Eichel is going to light up the NHL this upcoming season because he no longer has to carry the entire team on his shoulders. Same holds true for the Bills. Josh Allen can’t bring glory to the Bills’ franchise alone. It’s been since Levy and Polian since we’ve had this level of competence at One Bills Drive. Huzzah. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.
*Views expressed by authors may or may not be the opinion of the owners of the BillsMafia website.