And just like that, with a frenzied three days, 253 total picks, and an abundant optimism throughout the National Football League, the 2017 Draft is officially over.
The Buffalo Bills went through with head coach Sean McDermott running the show for the first time ever and came away with six new players — three of which taken in the top 63 selections — and an extra first-round draft pick in 2018.
As is tradition, following the conclusion of their final draft pick, the Bills address the media for their official end of draft press conference. McDermott discussed a bevy of topics, with a few of them sticking and worth talking about further.
Seven takeaways from the head coach following the draft:
1) Still no endorsement for Whaley and company
- The Bills head coach had to expect that the question was coming. It was briefly brought up on night one of the 2017 NFL Draft, but McDermott said that they’re focused on the draft at this time. It was only a temporary answer because it had to be followed up after their draft was over and done with. Once again, when asked about the job status of GM Doug Whaley and the scouting staff, McDermott replied that the Bills were still focused on the draft at this time. He did add, though, that he felt “Doug and his staff did a phenomenal job.” Nowhere, in any of those trains of thought, was there an indication of an endorsement for that whole crew to be kept on board. Until there is a definitive statement from the organization — in one way or another — the speculation will continue to grow.
2) McDermott the draft’s lone voice for now… and for always?
- Following a successful draft — and by successful, I mean by filling needs throughout the draft that can potentially make an impact in their first year — Sean McDermott reflected on what he could have done better. He’ll analyze it, and continue to reflect on it when the 2018 NFL Draft comes around. But when that draft inevitably gets here, no matter who the general manager is at One Bills Drive, the ‘one voice’ approach with McDermott as the front man of the band will continue. When asked if he believes he’ll be the one to address the media in future drafts all throughout the process, McDermott was succinct:
“As long as I’m the head coach, I do.”
As if the evidence hadn’t been piling up in front of our eyes over the past several weeks, it's painfully evident that Sean McDermott is the man pulling the strings in Orchard Park.
3) Bills continue to be silent on Watkins option
- Following a report from The Buffalo News that details that it’s “unlikely” the Bills will pick up the fifth-year option on wide receiver Sammy Watkins, there have been plenty of people that have disagreed with the potential decision, which includes myself — and the reasons for which you can read here. With the deadline looming on Wednesday of next week, the Bills weren’t prepared to make that decision public just yet. With all the hesitation that we’ve seen from the Bills head coach when the topic has been broached and considering the deadline is Wednesday, it appears Watkins will be heading into a contract year in 2017.
4) Nathan Peterman a “no brainer”
- The Buffalo Bills made the decision to select Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman in the fifth round, and to them, they felt as though he was too good to pass up. McDermott went on and on about the “grit” and leadership that he felt Peterman brought to the table, and with how he was able to battle back from the adversity of losing his job at Tennessee and then thriving at Pittsburgh. McDermott believes Peterman is wired the right way for the position. Considering that some believed Peterman could go on Day Two of the draft, this was a solid addition for the Bills to have. someone to develop, that also provides some down-the-line potential.
5) Starting QB job will need to be earned
- When asked about the opportunity that’s ahead for Peterman, and Cardale Jones this summer, McDermott lumped all the quarterbacks together and said that they will all compete, and nothing is promised to any of them. He was then asked if that competition extends into the starting job -- and in essence, to Tyrod Taylor -- to which McDermott replied, “Competition is there. You earn the right to start on this football team.” It reads as though the starting job is up for grabs, but I don’t believe McDermott is necessarily the type of guy that just hands out starting jobs — especially not in his first offseason as the head coach of the team. I suspect he’d be willing to say that for the majority of positions. For now, I wouldn’t read into it too heavily until we get more evidence during offseason workouts.
6) An endorsement for Jonathan Williams
- The Bills went through the 2017 NFL Draft without selecting a running back to replace Mike Gillislee, after he was poached by the New England Patriots just last week. Now, before undrafted free agents get announced, the Bills only have five running backs on the depth chart: LeSean McCoy, Mike Tolbert, Cedric O’Neal, Joe Banyard, and second-year running back Jonathan Williams. However, the latter seems to have caught the eye of the Bills head coach. McDermott said that Williams is a “good, young runner” that has a chance to play a role for the Bills. Now — unless the Bills sign another veteran between now and the start of training camp — the main backup job seems like it’s completely up for the taking for Williams.
7) Milano thought to be a linebacker, not a safety
- Following the selection of Matt Milano, there was some brief confusion as to what position he would play with the Bills. At 6-feet and 225 pounds, Milano had experience as both a linebacker and a safety during college, and McDermott even pointed to that fact in his initial comments about the fifth-round pick. However, when asked which position the Bills would put Milano, McDermott said they see him as a linebacker. So between him and Tanner, the Bills added some much-needed speed to the linebacker position.