Sammy Watkins is the Bills’ 2014 first-round pick. And their 2015 first-round pick. And their 2015 fourth-round pick. Which means the Bills need Watkins to be nothing less than a star.
The Bills traded those three picks to move up in the first round and draft Watkins, a wide receiver from Clemson. They need him to be not just a solid player, but an outstanding player, a player who joins with quarterback EJ Manuel for a pass-catch combination that reminds Bills fans of Jim Kelly and Andre Reed.
These are perilous times for the Bills franchise, which has been mired in losing and has a sale pending. If they can’t convince the locals to support a new stadium, the Bills will probably leave Buffalo.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why there was a sense of urgency to draft a playmaker like Watkins, who is the best wide receiver to enter the draft in the last couple of years, and perhaps the best draft prospect at the position since the Lions drafted Calvin Johnson. The Bills wanted to make a splash.
But they spent a fortune to make that splash. Without first- and fourth-round picks next year, the Bills are basically assured of having a weak rookie class in 2015. Teams that mortgage their future like that often live to regret it.
So the Bills don’t only need Watkins to develop into a great player. They need him to be a good player immediately, and help the Bills ensure that those 2015 picks they traded away will be low in the draft order.