While some teams use the draft to develop talent for the future, the Bills are in a position to give several members of their 2014 NFL Draft class playing time in their rookie years.
It is a lock that standouts in wide receiver Sammy Watkins and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo will make the 53-man roster and even contribute from day one. While they may not get playing time from the get go, inside linebacker Preston Brown and Russ Cockrell, Buffalo’s third and fourth-round picks, also appear to be in good shape to make the final cut in August, even if they have to toil on the bench or on special teams early on.
What is worth analyzing, at least for now, is which less-heralded players could emerge to make the team. I have decided to take a peak at three players I am keen on their chances to make the Bills, or at the very least, make a future for themselves in the NFL.
As I have written about before, I am high on Henderson’s upside. The Bills used their final pick in the seventh round to snag Henderson, once regarded by many recruiting experts as the No. 1 high school prospect in 2010. His questionable work ethic while at Miami (he quit his pro day early), along with issues stemming from repeated marijuana use, gives him the shortest leash of any rookies/undrafted free agents on the Bills, he may very well have the most talent out of any of them.
The 6-foot-7, 311-pound offensive tackle is quick for his size and could give Kouandijo competition for playing time for an offensive line that needs to be bolstered. If Henderson makes it as a successful pro, it would be vindication for an organization that has struggled mightily in developing talent.
Unlike Henderson, Broomfield is nowhere near a household name, but he is still a talented player. From watching him in person at Iowa State, I can testify that this guy can play. Though the Cyclone defense was not good last year, Broomfield helped keep it from being a trainwreck. At 6-foot-0, 206 pounds, Broomfield is slightly undersized at safety, but he is a ball hawker and is not afraid to play a physical style of ball. The Bills signed two other undrafted free agent safeties in Derek Brim and Kenny Gaines, who could be in the running for a spot in the defensive backfield, but I like Broomfield’s chances to make the team as at least an energy guy on special teams.
If Gaines were to make the team, it would make for a pretty awesome story. Gaines, another Miami grad, played his high school ball in Miami and would be another local hero along with Mike Williams, who signed in the offseason. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Gaines played both outside and middle linebacker while starting in 27 games at Miami. His lack of size and speed perhaps kept him from being drafted, but his quickness and awareness caught the eyes of the Bills and myself as well. He had nearly 200 tackles in college and could make a name for himself back at home.