On Thursday, April 22, 2010, the Buffalo Bills shocked the draft world yet again by selecting Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, even though thousands of draft gurus rested assured that Buffalo would address the clearly visible need at left tackle, or solidify the new 3-4 defense with a stud nose tackle.
Instead, the Buffalo Bills brass elected to go the "best player available" route, as they didn't see either Iowa OT Bryan Bulaga, Rutgers OT Anthony Davis, or Tennessee NT Dan Williams worthy of the No. 9 overall pick.
Let's go back nine years.
Buddy Nix is Assistant GM of the San Diego Chargers, currently holding the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft. With no starter-worthy quarterback on the roster, the Chargers trade down, passing on Michael Vick, and selected the highly touted Texas Christian running back LaDanian Tominson, who was the best available player, in Nix's mind.
This is very similar to the situation in Buffalo. New head coach, Chan Gailey operates a run-first scheme, and with the uncertainty regarding Marshawn Lynch and the lack of depth at running back, C.J. Spiller brings an explosive, change of pace to the lackluster offense that is the Buffalo Bills.
Spiller was a high school track and football star, averaging over ten yards per carry, rushing for over 5,000 yards and scoring over 30 touchdowns in his high school career.
Ranked the No. 8 overall high school prospect, and No. 1 running back prospect by Rivals.com, Spiller was selected to play in the 2006 U.S Army All-American Bowl, playing for the east with Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Graham, LeSeanMcCoy, and Beanie Wells as his teammates.
Spiller attended Clemson, making an impact instantly as a true freshman, rushing for 938 yards and ten touchdowns, on 139 carries as a backup. Spiller displayed play-making ability and could change the momentum of a game at any moment.
In his sophomore year, Spiller became a threat as a receiver as well as in the backfield, receiving for over 200 yards and two touchdowns.
After his junior and senior years, Spiller went down in the NCAA record books, for most kick returns for touchdowns (7), and became one of only five players to gain over 7,000 all-purpose yards. C.J. is also the only player in the nation to score a touchdown five different ways: passing, rushing, receiving, a kick return, and a punt return.
Spiller's versatility is perfect for the Buffalo Bills, who have lacked any excitement since the good ol' days of the K-Gun offense. At Clemson, Spiller scored 51 touchdowns, 21 of which were 50+ yards.
C.J. Spiller is a player that can break a play and shift the momentum of a game in a split second. While watching tape of Spiller, it brings me to the Buffalo vs. Tennessee game, in which Titans running back Chris Johnson carved the Bills' defense for over 230 all purpose yards, breaking six rushes of over 20 yards.
Bills fans will be angered at first, for not taking an offensive tackle, but Spiller is projected by many as the player who will have the most impact this year out of all the prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft.
"Spiller is a world-class athlete with that speed and explosion,'' said Hall of Fame former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders outside Radio City Music Hall.
It will be very interesting to see how this situation will play out in Buffalo. Spiller is so versatile, and I expect to see a lot of split backfield combinations, and Spiller in the slot on some occasions. He is a player that the defense always needs to be aware of, and hopefully that will open doors for the other play makers on the team.