Head Coach Sean McDermott & General Manager Brandon Beane
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Brandon Beane, Opening Statement: Before we start, because I know the questions will roll, I just wanted to take the time to thank all our scouts and the coaches. Joe Schoen, Terrance Gray, our full college staff, Sean’s staff – they put a lot of time on the road, in the film room. I know Brian Daboll, this is his first year here and he’s trying to get all his plays installed and we dragged him on the road on the quarterback tour a lot. We’ve held him back a little bit, but it was very important to have his input into the process, so I want to thank all of them for what they did; a lot of time away from their families in the so-called offseason. Just wanted to get that out there.
Q: A question for both of you, because Brandon, you weren’t here for the Draft last year and this relates to last year. There seemed to be a theme last year, Sean, where you drafted a lot of versatile guys. It seemed to carry over this year with guys who can do a lot of different things on the football field. Can you just talk about if that is something that you targeted and maybe why that is and how that can help you?
Sean McDermott: I think, overall, each situation is a little bit different. The more you can do, the better off you are and obviously, for us at least, we put a big emphasis on special teams so you see a situation like Ray-Ray [McCloud], the ability to play both line of scrimmage a little bit as well as along the special teams situation for us and add value there. Versatility with Siran [Neal] as well, in terms of playing; he’s played some linebacker, he’s played some corner, he’s played some safety. Just to name a couple right there to your point.
Q: Brandon, is that something you targeted coming into this draft that you wanted or did it just fall that way with the guys that were on the board?
BB: It just fell that way. We really, I mean, truly, we’re looking for good football players that fit what we do. Our DNA is really what we were targeting. It just, sometimes it falls where they’re more one-hole players but you like versatility when it happens.
Q: Sean, when you see Taron Johnson, does he look like the guy that can really compete at that Nickel position? He doesn’t seem like an outside guy, but would he be a good fit at that Nickel corner spot?
SM: Yeah, that’s where he’ll go first. He’s played inside, he’s played outside as well. He does offer, again, that flexibility and versatility of playing inside and outside so he’s tough. He tackles, which it seems like it’s a lost art for a lot of DB’s, corners in particular in this league, so that’s something we look for. Had an opportunity to be around him a little bit at the Senior Bowl and was impressed by what he did down there during the week. I thought that was an important get for us and another good job by Brandon and his staff.
Q: Sean, for Siran, he played linebacker, corner and safety in college. You don’t see that too often. What do you envision for him?
SM: Yeah, it’s an interesting combination, really. You hear combinations of safety and linebacker or, sometimes, corner and safety but very few encompass all three with linebacker thrown in there with corner and safety. [He] offers the flexibility, we’re going to get him in here in a couple weeks and see, really, where we want to put him first. It offers, really, that rookie minicamp, a chance for us to evaluate as well, once they get around what we do [and] exactly where we want to play them as the season comes around. He’s a guy that will obviously help us on special teams and [is] highly competitive; a young man that’s extremely driven, as well. Again, when we were at the Senior Bowl, he was a guy early on in the process, for me at least, that stood out from an intangible standpoint. Extremely driven and hungry young man.
Q: For both of you, isn’t it the case that when you’re still this early in your process and trying to build this thing the way you see it, that you’re going to be very target-specific with the positions [you draft]. Did you know these were spots you would have to address? You had a bunch of them. Was there kind of an overriding thought there versus the old, ‘okay, get the best player –
BB: We really try to get the best player. I didn’t mean to cut you off, but we really try to get the best player. It was no secret if the right quarterback fell to us or it was close where we could get to [him], we were going to try and do that. We didn’t really hide that. Linebacker was a huge hole with Preston [Brown]’s loss and we said that, but I had no expectation that we would be able to do that plus a quarterback because we knew Tremaine [Edmunds] was probably going to go pretty quick in the first round. That worked out, but there were a lot of good players that we saw and tried to get that other teams got and sometimes it works out. As we went later in the draft, we did start looking because you don’t want to draft guys that aren’t going to make your team, so you start looking [like], ‘you know what, we do have a hole here and here,’ but very early on, we were just trying to get the best player.
Q: It did seem logical as you went down the line after quarterback and linebacker, that tackle was something that you seemed destined for. You had wide receiver, and you went down a so-called checklist that a lot of us on the outside had.
BB: Yeah, we did, but we tried to stick to our board and we really did. I would say there might have been one time in the middle rounds where we were going, ‘man, our board is getting thin right here. We’re towards the bottom of the round,’ but we never really had to dig into another round, so to speak. You love it when you’re picking, you know, if you’re in the third and you’re pulling out of the second, that didn’t necessarily happen in the middle rounds but it wasn’t like we were dipping into a lower round.
Q: How about re-shaping your roster, Sean? You’ve faced two from a Draft standpoint. How do you see it?
SM: Well, the longer you’re at it, the more continuity you have from one year to the next. What we want is the harder it is to make our roster, right? The more we’re adding good football players from one year to the next, developing young football players the way we should be developing football players as coaches, drafting well from our personnel department, acquiring the right types of players through free agency, the waiver wire, and so on and so forth, the harder and more difficult and more challenging it should be to make our roster if we’re doing things the right way. My hope is that this year, we find even more competition, a higher level of competition throughout rookie minicamp, and then all the way through this spring and through training camp. And then, obviously, a better product on the field but that part comes in terms of putting a team together through different personalities, building a team and shaping a team. That’s where a lot of work yet has to be done. I know Brandon has said this before: we’re not finished in terms of trying to add good football players. We still have some areas of concern. [We have] a long way to go and a lot of work to do at this point.
Q: Along those same lines that you just spoke of, you look at the eight guys you just took, you took your roster and you were hoping it’s going to be a harder team to crack the starting lineup in. But, because you didn’t use six picks in the first three rounds, you may not have found the perhaps three or four starters you would’ve gotten had you gone that route. Is that okay? I mean, Edmunds could be the one guy who maybe we slot in as a starter this year and that may be it for this class. Is that okay in your view on the grand scheme?
BB: Yeah, we’re not really slotting any starters. Whether Edmunds or, I mean, there are other guys here that could still win a starting job. It’s April, almost May. I think it would be unfair to give any of these guys a starting job, but it doesn’t mean – there are some other guys here that can win a starting job. I mean, for example, and I’m not giving it to Taron [Johnson], but a Nickel is pretty much a starter. He’s playing 65-70% of the snaps so if he did win the Nickel job, I would call that a starter. They play more than D-tackles and D-ends generally do.
Q: Along the lines of there’s no real urgency, are you going to sit up there and say this is a win-now league and we need to win, you don’t seem real desperate right now and it’s time for patience. I’m not saying you can’t win again, but is that the way you’re looking at it? You said it’s not finished and it’s a longer process.
SM: Yeah, I mean the process continues. It is an urgent approach, very much so, and we all understand how this league works. We’ve all been around it a long time and I think if you take an understanding of ‘the process takes some time if you do it the right way,’ and when I’m talking about that, I’m talking about making good personnel decisions, money decisions, so on and so forth, but that doesn’t mean the approach isn’t an urgent approach everyday. You’ve heard me say this before: our store didn’t close for the offseason, but we want to get better through the right channels, through the right approach and I believe that we’ve done that. Like Brandon said, it’s been a total team effort, from everyone that pitched in through the last couple of days: food services, IT Department, PR – I mean, it’s been a total team effort, but it continues and you saw that again. A great example was last night [with] Harrison [Phillips] and Andre Reed and what Fred Jackson did. That’s the type of culture we’re trying to build here with their gesture with Pancho Billa. That’s the type of culture we’re trying to build. The work continues, and it’s going to continue to be an urgent, team-first approach.
Q: How much emphasis do you put on character in this Draft in relation to that?
SM: Well, you always look at character. I think some people say every team in the league looks at character. I’m sure they do. It’s who executes it. I felt like we came out with guys that we felt like were our types of guys. Brandon mentioned the word DNA. That’s important, that’s something you hear over and over again as we talk about guys that we bring in here: the fit. I think that’s important and you’ve heard me talk about this before, when you can add guys with good character with enough talent, that they have their chin over the bar talent-wise, you have a chance to have the culture and then the culture, as important as that is, really leads you to the important part of the chemistry, that all the good teams have from when we’re really young. Whether it’s baseball, youth whatever, you fill in the blank: the good teams have chemistry. Everyone understands their role, everyone understands that it’s a team-first approach. Yes, there are certain stars, but there are important roles within that team and they’re all valued equally.
Q: Brandon, what were the attractive qualities about Wyatt [Teller]? Maybe just a little thumbnail sketch there in terms of why you saw him as a good fit?
BB: Yeah, I mean, he’s a versatile player. He’s played tackle, he’s played guard, we see him probably his first position here as a guard. But he’s played in good competition in the ACC at Virginia Tech. That’s a storied football program. We like him, we think he’s going to come in here and compete, and we’re happy. Again, he provides us depth and he’ll get to come in here and compete and who knows what will happen.
Q: Is Austin Proehl the longest-scouted players in your professional experience with the background there? Were you scouting him as a ball-boy?
BB: I’ve known him since he was eight so I’ve known him for a long time. He’s had a good career and it so happens we were still looking for competition at the slot position and he was on the board and he’s a great young man. Obviously, Sean and I both worked with his dad. I knew his dad as a player and so I know what kind of person and hard worker he’s done. He’s a really polished route-runner. Refined. He was schooled up by a guy who played seventeen years in the league so he’ll be a good fit.
Q: Do you have any stories of Teller? He seemed like a character. Do you have anything funny to say about Wyatt?
BB: We did not bring him in so we did not spend a lot of time with him, but knowing what our scouts said about him, I think he’s more of a country guy with a little bit of moxie to him, so to speak. I don’t think he’s going to back down from the competition but personally, Sean and I have not spent much time with him.
Q: How’s it make you feel when he says that when he goes to Taco Bell, he puts down eight beefy Fritos burritos?
BB: [laughs] Whatever it takes, as long as he can play on Sunday and be an effective player, he can do what he wants.
Q: With Teller playing guard, you didn’t draft any tackles, obviously. Sean, can you just kind of address the position and where it stands? Obviously, it’s been in flux with the trade with Cordy [Glenn] earlier in the offseason.
SM: Yeah, I mean I’m comfortable with where we are. When you look at the players we do have there and the work they’ve put in, and you watch what Dion [Dawkins] and Jordan [Mills] did last year, and the way they’ve come in in shape to this point in the offseason, and their leadership, I think those are two young men that I’ve noticed their leadership around our building rather early in the process for us this offseason and the list goes on with Conor McDermott, [DeOndre] Wesley, and then adding [Marshall] Newhouse in the offseason. He’s got some position flex. I like what he’s done. He’s a nice veteran presence, also leadership ability. I feel comfortable with where we are. We’re in the process of trying to add some priority free agents as well. Andrew Dees and Juan Castillo do a phenomenal job of developing and spending time with the players along the offensive line so we’re comfortable at this point.
Q: Brandon, can you reflect on going through your first Draft as a General Manager?
BB: You know, it’s one of those things I didn’t really think about. You just, you get in the groove in there and everything is kind of fast and furious at times. It’s a team effort and I didn’t really put it on myself. Excited of what we came out with, excited about these players and who they are and I look at it as a whole. I got here almost twelve months ago and it was a lot of catching up building a staff and it’s kind of, let me take a deep breath and give all these great players to Sean and let him coach him up and – no, I’m just kidding. But no, in all seriousness, it kind of just, for our whole staff it’s kind of like we’re going to look back at what we did the whole year and this is kind of what you do. All of the hours, the travel, the tape, it was a lot but it was fun and again, you never know what’s going to happen. Three days ago, I didn’t know how it was going to unfold. I honestly didn’t. We had a lot of scenarios and we didn’t peg it exactly right on any of them but I feel good with what we came out of [it with]. But again, as Sean said earlier, we’re not satisfied. We’ll still continue to look to find players to add competition to the roster.
Q: It seems like you gained a lot of goodwill making the playoffs. Be patient and not expect Josh Allen to go out there and lead you to the Super Bowl right away. Do you feel like you’ve gained that belief, that [the fans] know what you’re doing and don’t expect miracles overnight?
BB: Yeah, that’s a good question. We’re definitely, we’re trying to win every day. We truly are, but it’s no different. It takes time to build this and some of these guys that we drafted, as you mentioned, will get things quicker and some won’t. The great thing for Josh is that bringing A.J. [McCarron] here, who has NFL experience, who has won at every level he’s been at except the pros because he’s been mainly a backup, and then I think Nathan Peterman, he’s not scared of the challenge so I think that’ll give Josh the time to come in and learn from these guys. There’s going to be competition. There’s going to be a very competitive room in there. As a whole, I like where we’re at. It’s April. You look at things on paper. Paper doesn’t matter. This is a new year, but hopefully fans understand or believe in what we’re doing here as a group from Terry [Pegula], Kim [Pegula], Sean and I and everybody else, that we have it in the right direction but we have not arrived, by any means.
Q: Brandon, there were two FCS guys that you drafted. Sometimes, teams go several years without even picking one. Is that just a coincidence on your part or is there maybe something more in play there in terms of your scouting process?
BB: No, I think we do try to turn over every stone but it wasn’t a target to go get those guys. We spent time with those guys, with Taron and Siran. We actually sent one of the coaches down because Siran, you guys mentioned the multiple positions he played, to work him out and get him on the board and I think he’ll most likely end up at safety but as Sean said, we’ll get him in here and see. It’s just the way it fell.
Q: With Josh Allen, do you plan to give him a legitimate shot to win the starting job from day one or would you guys kind of prefer to take that pressure off of him and give him some time to develop?
BB: We’re not going to rush him, but if he somehow wins the job then he wins it. There’s other players out there. There will be 52 other players out there and if they see that he’s clearly the best, I don’t think we could do that. We wouldn’t do that at any other position. We’ll let it go, but he’s got a lot of catching up to do. A.J. and Nathan are a long way ahead just getting in here with Brian [Daboll] when the offseason conditioning program started.
Q: When it comes to his development, a lot of people point to Carson Wentz and the way he developed, the way his coaches kind of supported him. They built the offense to kind of accentuate his strengths. How involved was Brian in the process of, ‘hey, how would you build your offense for this guy? How important is that going to be?’
BB: It was very important. Brian and David Culley, Sean, the Pegulas and everybody, we visited all these guys that we considered drafting and Brian, we had him go through with each of the quarterbacks: how will you use him? What would you do differently if we get this guy? That’s the great thing about Brian. He understood, you know, we talked about the strengths – which I talked a couple days ago [about how] they all have strengths, they all have some flaws. Brian had a specific plan for Josh, once we selected him, and he’s very excited to work with him. So is Coach Culley.
Q: Outside of his traits, conceptually he did come from a pro style scheme. What sort of stuff do you think he does well?
BB: I think the pro style helps. Some guys come in here and they haven’t taken a snap from under center. He’s done that, he’s called plays, he’s made checks, he’s been in the gun, he’s done the RPO stuff before. He’s done a lot, even though he was playing at a smaller level, similar to Carson Wentz. He makes plays from the pocket, he’s big, he’s strong, but he is athletic and made some really good throws on the run that shows what he can do. There’s a lot of plays that Sean and I talked about that reminded us of some of the bigger quarterbacks in the league where guys are falling off of him and he extends the play, where some of the other guys may have been sacked. So that’s probably the things that I focused on.
Q: Sean, does the quarterback competition begin, as far as you’re concerned, the moment all three are on the field for the first time in the offseason? From your evaluation, do they start that soon? Or what is your starting point as coaches?
SM: Well, for any position really, it’s the total evaluation. It’s not just what happens on the field. It’s the final product, the results part of it is important and valued highly, but it’s also about what’s going on in the process of in the meeting rooms, in the weight room, we look at everything. We evaluate everything. We compete at everything we do, and the players know that. There’s very clear expectations around what we do, how we do things, and how it’s supposed to look everyday in the standard we created here so that’s, whether it’s quarterback or any other position, we evaluate everything.
Q: You brought up a lot of times when talking about Josh [Allen], that playing through the conditions here in Buffalo [was a big factor], but I guess my question is more conceptual. If the large majority of the games are in good weather or indoors, why is that so important to you as a franchise?
BB: What do you mean, if –
Q: If a large majority of his games are going to be played in fine weather or indoors, then why is playing –
BB: Well, that was an added bonus. If we were in a dome, we still would have taken Josh Allen. Still would’ve made the move we made. Does that answer your question? That was what I call an added benefit. Some guys, you’re projecting. Some of the quarterbacks that came out never even played in rain. I think one of them, we asked and it was like 50 degrees was the coldest game he had played in. And that didn’t keep us from wanting to draft him, but I thought it was an added bonus to see him play in the conditions he played in.
Q: At wide receiver, you guys picked up two today but it was not a very prominent pick spent on wide receiver, so can we just ask the question that we’ve all been asked the most by our fans, is do you have any interest in Dez Bryant?
A: You know, we look at everything and we have looked at Dez on tape but I wouldn’t go into it any further than that. I don’t know where that would go, but we’re looking to get better at all positions, receiver being another one so if we thought that was the right fit for us, we definitely would potentially pursue it.