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