Grading the Buffalo Bills’ 2010 NFL Draft: C.J. Spiller

C.J. Spiller has been very impressive on the field, but has been underutilized in his first three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot

As an educator, I place letter grades on papers daily. It’s important for students to know how they did on a particular assignment. Simply put, grades are important.

However, not everything should be graded. I’m sure you can see where I’m headed with this, but if not I’ll make it crystal clear. I hate NFL draft grades that are given out before the players have even seen the field.

Personally, I’ve always felt that giving players three to four years is a sufficient amount of time in the NFL. By the end of three years, you should have an idea of how good a player is going to be; in a few cases, it takes a fourth year.

In light of Buddy Nix stepping down as Bills general manager, we here at Buffalo Bills Draft thought it would be as good of a time as ever to evaluate his first draft class: the 2010 NFL Draft.

First up to get his report card? C.J. Spiller.

Round 1, Pick 9: C.J. Spiller, Running Back, Clemson

I remember feeling excitement and confusion when the pick was made. In terms of play-makers, C.J. Spiller was by far the best player available. The confusion came from the fact that running back was one position where the Bills were actually pretty strong. At the time, the team had Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson as its backs. As I said, those are two solid running backs.

Leading up to the draft, then-coach Chan Gailey mentioned he would like to add a “water bug” back to the Bills. This apparently wasn’t a smokescreen. Spiller was the pick.

Looking back at the players taken right after the Bills running back, Spiller was the right call.

Spiller’s Clemson Career

At Clemson, C.J. Spiller put up head turning statistics.

In his freshman year, Spiller was the team’s second-leading rusher behind James Davis. Spiller made the best of his 129 attempts by running for 938 yards, an average of 7.3 yards per carry. He added 10 rushing touchdowns as well as 19 receptions for 210 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

In 2007, Spiller again was second on the team in rush attempts behind Davis. Spiller’s attempts went up to 145 carries on the season; he rushed for 768 yards and three touchdowns. In the receiving game, Spiller caught 34 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

For the third straight season, Spiller played second-fiddle to Davis during his junior year. He rushed the ball 116 times for 629 yards (5.4 average) and seven touchdowns. For the second straight year, Spiller hauled in 34 passes, but his receiving yards increased to 436 yards. He added another three touchdowns receiving. Spiller also had 19 kickoff returns for 516 yards and a touchdown, and 18 punt returns for 189 yards. For his efforts, Spiller was a first-team all-ACC selection as a returner and second-team all-ACC as a running back.

In 2009, Spiller was finally given his opportunity as the lead back for the Tigers. He carried the ball 216 times in his senior season for 1,212 yards (5.6 average) and 12 touchdowns. Spiller’s receiving totals also increased to 36 receptions for 503 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 23 kickoff returns for 755 yards and four touchdowns, and eight punt returns for 210 yards and a touchdown. For the second consecutive year, Spiller was a first-team All-ACC selection as a return specialist and a second-team All-ACC selection at running back. Spiller was also a consensus selection to the All-American team in 2009 as a return specialist.

Spiller was named the ACC Player of the Year in 2009 and had his jersey retired in 2010.

What the Draft Analysts Said Following the 2010 NFL Draft

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com was high on the selection of Spiller and graded it with an A.

I love this pick. The kid will be the next Chris Johnson. He can fly. The Bills need a playmaker. If they don’t take a QB, they had to help the offense.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com gave the entire Bills draft a C+ and had this to say about Spiller (ESPN Insider Subscription Needed):

Buffalo surprised me with its pick at No. 9. This is a team that has to get better up front, and it opted to go with C.J. Spiller instead. Spiller is, along with Jahvid Best, the best home run threat in the draft, and undoubtedly will help that offense.

Last, John Czarnecki of FOXSports.com gave the Bills’ draft a C grade. Czarnecki thought Buffalo should have looked at quarterback, but understood why Spiller was selected:

The Bills passed on their quarterback needs (maybe Trent Edwards is better than we think?), but they took the draft’s best running back, Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, who is a home-run hitter.

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Tags: 2010 NFL Draft, Buddy Nix, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Draft Grades

4 Responses to “Grading the Buffalo Bills’ 2010 NFL Draft: C.J. Spiller”

  1. Jack Long says:

    I would give CJ an A grade after seeing his potential of last year. You notice I said potential b/c I think the Bills have only scratched the service on what he is capable of doing. Thanks to FJax getting hurt and giving CJ the chance to show his worth. I can see 1500 yards running and 500+ yards receiving in Nathaniel Hacketts offense this coming season. Go Bills!

    • Ryan Talbot says:

      Jack, thanks for the note! I agree that based upon his potential and production in 2012, he could easily earn an A. I gave him a B+ based upon how grossly underused he was in his first two seasons. It’s my belief that a first round pick should contribute immediately, except for the QB in certain situations.

      Overall, I think we’ll see career highs in rush yards, receptions and receiving yards in 2013. Hope you visit again soon! Go Bills!

  2. John says:

    Poetry in motion. “Juice” like ability to stop, shift direction and accelerate and seem smooth in doing it.

    By the way, muted beyond stupid rap song and watched to 1812 Overture. Made C.J.’s moves seem much more awesome!

    • Ryan Talbot says:

      If Spiller gets the reps he deserves in 2013, then I cannot wait to see his final stat line. The sky is the limit.


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