Bills trade up to draft O-lineman Singletary, tight end Knox
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills general manager Brandon Beane doesn’t believe in having too many offensive linemen.
Buffalo’s backfield also got a little more crowded.
A day after addressing the team’s biggest need by selecting defensive tackle Ed Oliver in the first round, Buffalo traded up two spots in the second round to draft Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford 38th overall on Friday.
The Bills added youth to an aging backfield, which includes LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, by choosing Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary with the 74th pick.
Buffalo then completed its second trade by moving back into the third round to select Mississippi tight end Dawson Knox with the 96th pick. The Bills gave up their two fourth-round selections, 112th and 131st overall, in a trade with Washington.
If there was a major theme to Buffalo’s offseason, it was a continued effort to overhaul what had been a patchwork offensive line last year.
Ford’s addition comes after the Bills signed six veteran linemen in free agency over the past two months, and he increases Buffalo’s number of linemen to a whopping 14.
“We believe in winning up front. and there were frustrating times when some of the games we didn’t win last year, I think it came down to losing the battle up front,” Beane said.
“I said, if nothing else this year, we’re going to fix that,” he added. “There was an effort to fix a lot of that in free agency. But we also wanted to add youth.”
The Bills were so high on Ford, who will be given a chance to compete for the starting job at right tackle, they dealt their second of two fifth-round draft picks — 158th overall — to move up two spots in a trade with the Oakland Raiders to select him.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 329 pounds, Ford earned first-team Big 12 honors with 14 starts at right tackle as a junior last season. He also has experience playing guard.
Ford was initially projected to be a first-round selection and was still in Nashville, Tennessee, where the draft was held. He was watching the draft on television in his hotel room when his name was called.
Though disappointed, Ford put a positive spin on having to wait an extra day.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “This situation could be better than any situation in the first round.”
After playing just three games before breaking his left leg in 2016, Ford returned to start 12 games at left guard in 2017. Last year, he was credited with a team-best 127 knockdowns while allowing just two sacks.
“He had to overcome a ton here at OU,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a release issued by the school. “He’s one of the nastiest offensive linemen I’ve ever coached, and I think he was probably the most dominant tackle in the country last year.”
Buffalo closes the draft with four picks over the final for rounds on Saturday when the Bills are expected to address depth needs at linebacker and receiver, and special teams units.
Running back wasn’t considered a major need either after the Bills signed Gore last month and T.J. Yeldon on Monday. However, Beane noted the 21-year-old Singletary adds an element of youth to a backfield with Gore set to turn 36 and McCoy 31 by the start of next season.
Beane also made clear Singletary’s addition does in no way jeopardize McCoy’s status as the team’s workhorse.
“LeSean McCoy is still here before you ask that question,” Beane said. “He’s still the starter.”
In the 5-foot-7, 203-pound Singletary, the Bills added a dynamic, but undersized player whom Beane referred to as being “the funnest guy I’ve watched all year.”
“Rare instincts for the position,” he added. “He’s a smaller guy. I wouldn’t call him a home-run hitter, but he can make guys miss in a phone booth.”
At 5-7, 203 pounds, Singletary had 4,287 yards rushing and scored 66 touchdowns in 38 career games over three seasons. In 2017, he became the first Florida Atlantic player to earn All-American honors after he had 1,918 yards rushing and scored 32 TDs.
Knox is listed at 6-4 and 254 pounds, and was limited to 39 catches for 605 yards in 18 games for Ole Miss.
Beane believes Knox was under-utilized at college, and believes he has the potential to play a larger role in the receiving game.