When someone thinks of the Buffalo Bills, the first thoughts that come to mind are “mired in mediocrity”, “lost four straight Super Bowls”, or “haven’t made the playoffs since ‘99”.
Although all those are true, there’s another that is always mentioned. It is the principal reason why our lovable losers haven’t been able to ever hoist the Lombardi trophy--the Bills draft poorly. Everybody knows it, and everybody knows their drafting has to change in order to salvage the franchise and keep it in Buffalo.
When you look at Buffalo’s recent draft picks, as a Bills fan, all you can do is shake your head and wonder what on earth they were thinking. Let’s take a look at just a few:
In 2008, in the second round, the Bills drafted James Hardy, out of Indiana. Hardy was a great prospect, with incredible size, leaping ability and potential. As we all know, that didn’t work out.
Hardy is now buried in the Baltimore Ravens WR depth chart. Who could the Bills have drafted? DeSean Jackson was available, and so were other great players including Mario Manningham and Eddie Royal.
In 2009, the Bills made an all-too-famous drafting gaffe. They selected Aaron Maybin with the 11th overall pick, over all-world Texas linebacker Brian Orakpo. Maybin was decent in college, but Orakpo was the Lombardi award winner (given to the best linebacker or lineman), the Nagurski award winner (given to the best defensive player) and a unanimous All-American amongst other accolades.
As we all know now, Orakpo has made two trips to the Pro-Bowl in his two year career. Maybin has contributed 24 tackles in his career. Yeah, that’s it.
The verdict is still out on CJ Spiller, the Bills first round pick in 2010, who was oft-injured in his rookie campaign. It was questionable that the Bills drafted a running back to a roster that already boasts two good ones. That didn't seem smart to me. The Bills could’ve selected offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey (rookie Pro-Bowl selection and All-Pro second team selection) or even defensive back Devin McCourty, who picked off seven passes in his rookie year en-route to a Pro-Bowl selection.
So we know the Bills don’t draft well. What do they do now? Here’s what they do this year--draft Cam Newton.
I was never an advocate for Newton--his off-field issues combined with having one year of starting experience at an elite college level, flashed immediate red-flags.
Outside of that, his upside is tremendous. He is a pure athlete with excellent poise, the arm to make all the throws and good work ethic. NFL scouts see him as a high-risk, high-reward pick, and for the Bills, the risk/reward would be even higher. So why risk our first top-five pick on such a player?
Newton brings excitement and controversy wherever he goes. For a franchise that is struggling to consistently fill seats amidst relocation rumours, a player like Newton is a must. People either want to see him fail, or do well--there is rarely indifference towards him. People will pay to see him. If he does well (as in well enough to carry the franchise into the playoffs/improve upon previous years) there will be a resurgence of faith in Buffalo, and they will be on the road to success. If he fails, he would have helped generate considerable revenue to the franchise during his tenure, and hopefully the franchise would have figured things out and decide to stay put in Buffalo.
Newton is the pick to turn this franchise around for good. Anything else might help to extend that decade-long playoff drought.