Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Will the Gamble Pay Off?


Two things were clear after the dust settled from the Buffalo Bills 2014 NFL draft:  First, the organization is all-in on Sammy Watkins as their No. 1 wide out and secondly, Doug Whaley and the entire front office is banking on the Bills making the playoffs this year. If this draft class doesn’t pan out and EJ Manuel is not their quarterback of the future, the Bills are in some serious trouble for years to come.

The Bills kept the phone lines open throughout the three day draft. They moved up (and gave up next year’s first and fourth round draft picks) to select Watkins, moved down in the 2nd round to select Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio, traded a future 4th round pick for Eagles RB Bryce Brown, and traded down in the 5th round to take Baylor OG Cyril Richardson.

Breaking down Buffalo’s draft picks….

Pick 1, Clemson WR Sammy Watkins

Whether you agree with the move or not, there’s a reason Buffalo gave up so much to draft Sammy Watkins. He is an incredible talent and is the exact type of wide receiver that Buffalo needs. He’s a great athlete, has great hands, runs tight routes and has ridiculous speed. Watkins’ 4.43 40 ranks with the best in the NFL and gives him the ability to stretch defenses down the field. Watkins was the most explosive wide out in the draft and should give second-year quarterback EJ Manuel a dependable target.

Time will tell whether Doug Whaley gave up too much, but with Stevie Johnson gone, Watkins becomes the team’s immediate No. 1 wide out opposite Mike Williams and Robert Woods.

It will take time for Bills, EJ Manuel, and Watkins to harness their potential . The question is less about Watkins talent and more about those around him.

Pick 2, Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio

Kouandjio  is a mammoth 6’7” 325 pound tackle who dropped out of the first round due to questions surrounding a knee injury he suffered two seasons ago.

Kouandjio played left tackle for an Alabama offense that lived by the run. While he’s an absolute beast in the run game, and if his knee holds up, he was a steal for the Bills.

Pick 3, Louisville LB Preston Brown

At 6’2” 260 pounds, Brown should be a great run stuffer, but has been knocked by analysts for his lack of quickly identifying plays in pass coverage.

Pick 4, Duke CB Ross Cockrell

Cockrell recorded 227 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 53 total passes defended and 12 interceptions over his career at Duke. There are concerns about his speed, but possesses quick hands and good timing to rip at the ball as it arrives.

Pick 5, Baylor OG Cyril Richardson

Richardson is built well for the position with a good combination of natural athleticism and power, but his technique and discipline need refinement.  He can turn into a great value with a little work.

Pick 6, FAU LB Randell Johnson

Johnson is a relatively unknown linebacker out of Florida Atlantic. The Bills liked his speed and length. He had a very solid pro day, registering a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and clocking a 40 time of 4.60 seconds.

Pick 7, Miami OT Seantrel Henderson

At 6’7”, 330lbs., Henderson is Massive. He has the physical gifts to be a dominant NFL right tackle. However, his college career was marred by tragedy, suspensions, injuries and benchings. If he can mature and stay out of trouble, Henderson could wind up being the steal of the draft.

Overall Bills Draft Grade: B+

I love that Buffalo made some bold draft moves this year, but I feel they gave up a lot and they will still need a few years to get all the pieces together……but they’re getting there. I love the picks of Watkins, Kouandjio, Richardson and Henderson (if he stays out of trouble).