Buffalo Bills 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling
After a fourth straight 6-10 season, the Bills' new regime decided it was time to make a big splash and traded up to get Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, considered the best receiver in the draft. With the rest of their selections, the Bills methodically addressed several positions of need and may have found a couple diamonds in the rough.
They have a long mountain to climb to get ahead of the New England Patriots in the AFC East, and most of that burden falls on the shoulders of quarterback EJ Manuel, who must make significant strides in his second year. However, the Bills made several additions to the roster that could help him develop into a franchise signal-caller.
Here's a look at the best and worst from the Bills' weekend.
List of All 2014 Draft Selections
Sammy Watkins, WR (Round 1, pick No. 4)
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Round 2, pick No. 44)
Preston Brown, LB (Round 3, pick No. 73)
Ross Cockrell, CB (Round 4, pick No. 109)
Cyril Richardson, OG (Round 5, pick No. 153)
Randell Johnson, LB (Round 7, pick No. 221)
Seantrel Henderson, OT (Round 7, pick No. 237)
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (Round 1, pick No. 4)
The Buffalo Bills paid a heavy price to move up five spots to the No. 4 overall pick, giving up a first- and fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Watkins thrives on screens, which should help give quarterback EJ Manuel a weapon who can take short throws and turn them into home runs. Manuel still needs to fine-tune his deep ball, as he completed just 34.1 percent of throws 20 or more yards downfield (10th lowest in NFL). In the long run, the Bills hope Watkins can help Manuel grow into a franchise quarterback.
Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke (Round 4, pick 109)
The Bills have spent big-time resources on slot cornerbacks like Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey and Corey Graham. Now, with Cockrell, they've added a solid boundary cornerback to develop on the opposite side of the field from Stephon Gilmore. Cockrell is regarded for his man coverage, but is not particularly adept in zone and will need to work on his footwork and fundamentals in that aspect to become a well-rounded cornerback.
Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor (Round 5, pick 153)
The Bills have some serious questions on the inside of their offensive line, and the 6'5", 329-pound Cyril Richardson gives them a potential mauler in the middle. He will need to work on his conditioning and could be victimized by quicker interior defensive linemen, but if he gets those long 34.875" arms on a defender, he can move them off the ball with ease.
Randell Johnson, LB, Florida Atlantic (Round 7, pick 221)
Johnson is one of the rare seventh-round picks with the ability to make the roster. Despite signing Keith Rivers this offseason and Manny Lawson last offseason, the Bills have some question marks at strong-side linebacker. Johnson's 6'3", 242-pound frame is ideal for the position, and his 34.125" arms help him stave off blockers. If he can stay healthy, and if he can add some functional strength, he could contribute to the defense as a rookie.
Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville (Round 3, pick No. 73)
Preston Brown is not a bad player. He is just not a player the Bills particularly need. Brown is regarded as a two-down, run-thumping plodder at linebacker. If that sounds a lot like Brandon Spikes, that's because they're almost exactly the same player. Perhaps the Bills could move Brown to an outside linebacker position, but that will take some time.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama (Round 2, pick No. 44)
The Bills had a clear need at right tackle, but took a risk on Cyrus Kouandjio, who fell due to failed medicals at the scouting combine and with teams. Erik Pears is still on the roster, but the Bills know they can upgrade the position. Kouandjio can do it if he stays healthy, but the Bills are hoping to strike it big on a gamble.
Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (Round 7, pick No. 237)
This pick is only baffling because of the dramatic questions about his commitment to football. There are also injury red flags to consider as well as multiple failed drug tests that resulted in a suspension. The 6'7", 331-pound monster from the University of Miami could develop into a monster, but only if he truly commits himself to the craft.