The Bills’ draft consisted of an expensive trade up to get the lottery’s consensus top wide receiver (Clemson’s Sammy Watkins) in the first round, two tackles (Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Miami’s Seantrel Henderson), the former with a first-round grade who fell to Round 2 due to concerns about his knee, the latter an impressive physical specimen selected in the final round — two or three lower than predicted — thanks to four (4) positive drug tests, including one at the NFL Combine.
Louisville linebacker Preston Brown was taken in the third round, a solid cornerback (Duke’s Ross Cockrell) in the fourth, an enormous guard (Baylor’s Cyril Richardson) with impressive skills but questionable speed in the fifth and Florida Atlantic linebacker Randell Johnson with the first pick in the seventh.
And, apparently, judging from my emails, those seven selections didn’t exactly scintillate the Bills’ faithful.
Three of every four saw Buffalo’s draft as a disaster in varying degrees.
Herewith is a sample, in the proportion I received them, three of the negatives and one positive.
1. All Bills fans wonder...was (quarterback EJ) Manuel the correct choice in 2013. And one explosive receiver isn’t an automatic ticket to the playoffs, let alone saving anyone’s job.
So they got their tackles and a guard, (but) ESPN still gave the Bills a C- ... agreeing (they) again have leased the AFC East basement apartment for another year.
This rebuilding project is becoming worse than the Big Dig.
2. I think that we can conclude that (the trade to get Watkins) was a desperation move to make Manuel shine and one that will in every likelihood backfire.
The lack of precedent of rookie WRs taking a team to that next level is resounding.
(There was also) one contradiction. (GM Doug) Whaley & Co. say that they want to win now, (then) make a highly-questionable trade-up to get Watkins and trade (Stevie Johnson) away for a fourth (round pick) next year, possibly a third, which in my opinion they’ll get.
If they really wanted to win now, they’d have kept Stevie. He’s no premier WR, but he’s been the best that we’ve had and has played with Manuel for one season already. The only other WR that we have that’s going to be relevant that has played with Manuel is (Robert) Woods who’ll be in his second season.
That hardly says ‘win now.’
I respect Whaley and (coach Doug) Marrone for not backtracking on Manuel, who, in my thinking, is destined to be replaced as soon as the denial from this current cast expires.
This does not have success written all over it nor even a good chance.
If they really wanted a WR that badly, they should have sat on their ninth (overall pick) or traded up when Watkins was taken, and selected Mike Evans (to the Bucs, seventh overall), who is of that big physical mode ala AJ Green/Calvin Johnson, and on whom I would wager he’ll easily outperform Watkins this year.
It’s a contradictory message. Either way, I fully expect the wheels to fall off this season regarding Manuel.
3. Not sure how many people e-mailed you their thoughts on the draft but I for one am very unhappy at how this played out. I think Doug Whaley came out like a rootin’-tootin’ cowboy, both guns blazing and was more interested in hitting a grand slam then stringing together five or six hits in a row. And, if he’s wrong, I don’t even want to think about it. I was expecting a nice, solid draft, not some wild deal where we lose our No. 1 for next year.
Also, I was praying that we picked another QB. There were some strong NFL minds out there that said there were nine guys coming out this year that were better than either EJ or Geno Smith and Whaley seems so intent on proving to everyone that he was right about Manuel, he didn’t want people pointing their fingers at him saying — “Aha! See — even you aren’t sure about Manuel.”
Bottom line, I think these are all the moves of a rookie GM and are going to really hurt us in the long run.
But, alas, there were positive responses, as in the one below.
1. When one examines what the Bills have done with first round picks the last dozen years or so, one may conclude that they are better off NOT drafting in the first round.
I think it was a great weekend for the Bills. They got rid of Stevie, got who they thought was the best player in the draft, and built a wall in front of EJ. Cyril Richardson was a unanimous All American, and Cyrus is a monster. If they can get (Henderson) to put down the (marijuana), they have another monster in the seventh round. I just read one service that said their best pick was the guy from Louisville.
The running back from Philly (Bryce Brown for a fourth-rounder) could be huge. He ran a 4.38, and had 350 yards in his first two starts with the Eagles. He (wouldn’t) play enough in Philly. Fred Jackson is great, but how much longer can he possibly be productive? The new RB can light a fire under C.J. (Spiller), and with the new offensive line, who knows?
They picked up extra picks by moving down a few slots getting Kuoandjio and with Tampa, getting Richardson. And they used the extra seventh to get the giant from Miami. That, to me, is excellent use of one’s commodities.
Eddie Munster (ESPN’s Mel Kiper) gave them a C- because they gave up too much for Watkins. He said O’Dell (Beckham, LSU) was available at No. 9. Eddie Munster makes millions of dollars and only got 3-of-32 correct in the first round. He had Cyrus ranked No. 32 and didn’t give the Bills credit for getting him in the second round.
I don’t care what the pundits say, I’m excited.
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)