A pick in the top-10 was not enough for the Buffalo Bills.
Looking to make a splash and shore up their receiving corps, the Bills moved into the top five, jumping from ninth to fourth to take the ultra-talented Sammy Watkins out of Clemson.
I’m excited to see what Watkins can do alongside Stevie Johnson and Mike Williams. With EJ Manuel showing signs of developing into a solid quarterback in the league, the Bills are primed to improve an offense that was 19th in yards per game (338.1) and a woeful 28th in passing yards per game (194).
Watkins was the first receiver to be taken in the draft and there are a multitude of reasons why. He was fifth in the NCAA in receiving last year, hauling in 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, Watkins already has an NFL body with 4.4 speed to back it up.
EJ Manuel tweeted his support immediately after the selection with a series of exclamation points, while running back and fellow Clemson alumnus CJ Spiller said in an interview with Bills.com he’s excited for Watkins to join the offense.
“I’m so excited,” Spiller said. “I’m jumping over hills right now with the pick that we made, not only because he’s a great player, but because we went to the same university.”
It is apparent that this pick was a shot in the arm for a franchise that is looking to make a name for itself and get back to the playoffs in the first time in over a decade, but let’s not forget what they had to give up to move up in the draft.
The Bills gave up their first-round pick to the Browns next season, putting the onus on winning right away for a team that went just 6-10 last season.
Without the luxury of a high pick next year to find a big-time player, a higher importance of improving throughout the rest of the draft exists and pressure on Watkins to excel is even higher.
In an interview with ESPN, general manager Doug Whaley defended the move and showed his faith in Watkins’ ability to make an immediate impact.
“We thought it was a calculated risk and a risk we were willing to take,” Whaley said. “The high cost of not making the playoffs is something we weighed in and we thought this guy [Watkins] was going to get us to the playoffs.”
Though things could look bleak for Doug Marrone and company if the Bills fail to make a playoff push next season, there is no doubt the Bills should be an exciting team to watch in the fall.
The Bills still have less sexier picks to make throughout the rest of the draft in filling holes at tight end, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, etc., but if they can do so, they could make a splash in the AFC East come next fall.