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Bills on the clock as NFL Draft continues on TSN

Brandon Beane Buffalo Bills Brandon Beane - The Canadian Press

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft came and went without the Buffalo Bills making a selection.

General manager Brandon Beane traded down twice on Thursday night, with the second deal taking the Bills out of the first round entirely.

While not everybody in Bills Mafia is seemingly on board with the decisions made, the Bills are set to kick off the proceedings in Round 2, now holding the 33rd overall selection.

You can catch Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft LIVE on Friday with coverage beginning at 6pm et/3pm pt on TSN1/3, streaming on the TSN App and on

Heading into the draft, the idea of the Bills making a move seemed like a very viable one, but the expectation was that the team was looking to move up, rather than down. The current Bills roster is a markedly different one than the one that took the field for the team's 27-24 season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in January in the AFC Divisional Round. Feeling the cap crunch, Beane made sweeping cuts that saw the departures of stalwarts like centre Mitch Morse, safety Jordan Poyer and cornerback Tre'Davious White. Then in free agency, the team lost wide receiver Gabe Davis and defensive end Leonard Floyd.

The exclamation point on the fact that the team was indeed entering a new era came with the Apr. 3 trade of All-Pro Stefon Diggs, the team's leading receiver for the past four seasons, to the Houston Texans. All told, 20 players on the 53-man roster for the Chiefs game are now former Bills.

The most pressing issue for Beane heading into the draft seemed to be finding a new weapon for superstar quarterback Josh Allen. The team added receivers Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins in free agency, but the departures of Diggs and Davis left Allen without his top target and a big-bodied deep threat.

Sitting at 28 to start Thursday night, it was obvious that the team would need to move up if they wanted a crack at the three available receivers perceived to be future No. 1s in Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers of LSU and Washington's Rome Odunze. The Bills stood pat and all three were gone by the time the ninth pick was made.

With the three star options off the board, an unusually deep crop of receivers meant the Bills could still fill their need with quality – even with the Jacksonville Jaguars nabbing LSU's Brian Thomas Jr. at 22. But when 28 came around, the Bills moved the pick to their archrivals the Chiefs in a pick swap that saw Buffalo grab an additional third-round selection as they moved down to No. 32.

Eyebrows were raised, though, when they Chiefs selected speedy receiver Xavier Worthy out of Texas. Having set the new record in the 40 at the NFL Combine with a blistering 4.21 seconds, Worthy potentially adds a dimension to the Super Bowl champions' offence that has been missing since the trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. If a deal that helped the Chiefs get better wasn't bad enough for Bills fans, recall that the last time these two teams made a draft-day deal was in 2017 when Kansas City traded up to No. 10 to select a Texas Tech QB named Patrick Mahomes.

The Bills didn't end up hanging on to No. 32, either. The team then flipped it to the Carolina Panthers for a package that included the No. 33 selection. The Bills now head into the rest of the draft with 10 picks in Rounds 2 to 7 and appear to have some options in front of them as to how to proceed. Keeping all of them is sensible for a team that is cap-strapped. Bringing in players who can contribute quickly on rookie deals is an easy way to retool...provided that you hit on them, which isn't at all a guarantee, especially in later rounds.

There is also the option of packaging some of these picks for an established player like Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals or one of San Francisco 49ers duo Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. While any of these players could immediately slot in as a new No. 1 receiver, there would still need to be some cap finagling to make it work and there's a good chance a viable path to that would prove to be difficult.

So who might they take at 32 should they keep that selection? There are a number of intriguing receivers still on offer, including Texas's Adonai Mitchell, who would answer the need for size lost in the Davis departure, and the speedy Ladd McConkey from Georgia. Oregon's Troy Franklin, Keon Coleman of Florida State and Michigan's Roman Wilson are also still available. It must be noted, though, that none of these players project No. 1 upside.

As much as the need for a receiver seems paramount, the Bills certainly have holes elsewhere. Two cornerbacks with first-round grades in Iowa's Cooper DeJean and Kool-Aid McKinstry of Alabama could help reshape a Bills secondary that remains in flux even with the addition of free-agent safety Mike Edwards.

Defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton of Illinois might not have had impressive counting stats, but his raw talent and ability make him a very intriguing option. While offensive line help is never sexy, the Bills currently plan to head into 2024 with Connor McGovern as a converted centre with the release of Morse. With that being a potentially iffy proposition, could the Bills turn to a natural centre in the form of Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson?

There is, of course, this possibility that the Bills will continue to trade down and accrue more late-round selections. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports the team is already taking calls from teams looking to move up. Beane has already proven ready to zig when he was expected to zag during this draft. Could more surprises be in store for these new-look Bills?