The Buffalo Bills made the first bold move of the 2014 NFL draft, trading up to the No. 4 overall pick to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
The Cleveland Browns gave up the No. 4 pick in exchange for the Bills’ 2014 first-round pick (No. 9 overall), their 2015 first-round pick, and 2015 fourth-round pick.
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound receiver was considered the best receiver in the draft. He was a first-team All-American in 2011 as a true freshman, and a second-team All-American in 2013.
The Bills have used a pick on a wide receiver within the first three rounds in each of the past three years; T.J. Graham was a third-round selection in 2011, Robert Woods a second-rounder in 2012, and now Watkins is a first-round Bills selection.
The Bills gave up a lot to get Watkins, but he is the consensus best receiver in this year’s class. Watkins had 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns over the past three years, the third-most receiving yards in the nation since 2011.
According to Greg Peshek of Rotoworld, 57.43 percent of Watkins’ receptions were on screen passes. That didn’t prevent him from showing an ability to run other routes, and he also excelled on post/corner routes and comebacks.
He has been compared to Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones as a potential instant success. The question marks, however, lie with second-year quarterback EJ Manuel. The Bills know this, and “want to push him”, according to reports. If he’s not the quarterback of the future, though, the Bills could be in trouble next year without a first-round pick.
With a potential change in ownership, after the passing of team founder Ralph Wilson, the front office decided now was their time to push their chips to the middle of the table.