Buffalo Bills Pick-by-Pick 2014 NFL Draft Review

Sammy Watkins was the most exciting pick of the draft class, but the Bills did a terrific job of finding value throughout the 2014 NFL draft. (Photo: Adam Hunger — USA Today Sports)

BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot

The Buffalo Bills made seven total selections in the 2014 NFL draft. The team wheeled and dealed over the course of the three-day draft and added a wide receiver, three offensive linemen, two linebackers and a cornerback.

Buffalo’s aggressiveness in the first round shows that the team is in a win-now mode. The Bills have a clear objective this season: make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

The theme going into this draft was getting EJ Manuel help. On paper, the draft was a success. The team added the top wide receiver in the class while bulking up an offensive line that gave up 48 sacks in 2013. In addition to their draft picks, Buffalo also traded for Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown, a player the Bills have coveted for more than a year. Manuel has all the weapons you could ask for.

We take a look at each of the Bills’ selections and assess how well the team did in addressing their needs and maximizing value.

Round 1, Pick 4: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Buffalo stressed the need to get EJ Manuel help, and the team showed that they meant it by trading up for the most talented offensive player in this year’s draft. Buffalo had a talented group of receivers heading into the draft, but lacked a true No. 1 wideout. It’s clear the team believes Watkins is that guy, as they traded away their first-round pick in 2015 as well as next year’s fourth-round pick to move up and draft him.

If Watkins is the playmaker that the team believes he is, it’ll be worth it. Watkins is an explosive athlete who has terrific hands and is someone who is hard to bring down in space. The wide receiver plays much bigger than his height (6’1″) and will be a day one starter.

Due to the team’s logjam at receiver, the Bills traded veteran receiver Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional fourth-round pick one day after drafting Watkins.

Round 2, Pick 44: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Kouandjio is a first-round talent who fell in part due to medical concerns in regards to his knees, but Bills general manager Doug Whaley seemingly didn’t have any concerns about the tackle and drafted him early in round two.

“I can’t comment on other teams,” Whaley said in a press conference Friday. “We have supreme confidence in our medical staff and we look at not only our medical staff and what they came back with, but his resume. The guy didn’t miss practice and he didn’t miss games. We’re comfortable with it.”

Kouandjio is a powerful blocker who stands at 6’7″ and 322 pounds. The former Alabama tackle is a strong run blocker but has struggled against speed rushers in pass protection. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo’s left tackle, had similar concerns and has improved upon this greatly since being drafted. Expect similar results from Kouandjio.

At this point, Kouandjio is the odds-on favorite to win the right tackle job in training camp.

Round 3, Pick 73: Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville

Preston Brown’s value was all over the place according to several draft sites, but Buffalo liked him and that’s all that matters. The inside linebacker is strong in run defense and was called a “thumper” on draft night. Brown believes that his tackling the best part of his game.

“I think tackling is one of the best things I do. It’s one of the main parts of the game,” Brown told BuffaloBills.com. “You’ve got to be able to tackle, especially if you’re going to be a linebacker. I try to be around the ball as much as I can and get forced fumbles anyway I could when I was around the ball.”

The biggest knock on Brown is his athletic ability. Many draft analysts think Brown is a liability in coverage. Due to this fact, some draft analysts believe Brown is a two-down linebacker. That’s yet to be seen, but the Bills needed to upgrade their run defense. In 2014, Brown can spell Brandon Spikes and get eased into the speed of the NFL game.

See page 2 for analysis on the rest of Buffalo’s draft picks and an assessment of how well the team addressed its needs and drafted for value.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Buffalo Bills, Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Draft Grades, Draft Recap, Draft Reviews, NFL Draft, Preston Brown, Randell Johnson, Ross Cockrell, Sammy Watkins, Seantrel Henderson

6 Responses to “Buffalo Bills Pick-by-Pick 2014 NFL Draft Review”

  1. kc says:

    this class would be awesome if not for the cost of next years 1st and 4th. i guess that is the cost of those late season irrelevant wins that feel good for a day.

  2. Paul in Beijing says:

    Honestly I was horrified when I first learned of the trade up for Watkins. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered the Cornelius Bennett trade. The Bills had been stuck in their losing ways and they needed that can’t miss prospect to catapult them into winning. Let’s hope the Watkins trade yields similar results. I certainly admire Whaley’s guts and support for Manuel.

    • Ryan Talbot says:

      I have no problem with the team trading up for the best offensive player in this draft class. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out though.

  3. ikejames says:

    Regarding Preston Brown: “The more I watched of him, the more I thought he could play three downs. He’s a bit of a throwback type of player.” — Mike Mayock

    I think the Bills saw that potential and plan to develop his coverage abilities.

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