For two first-round picks, Bills need Sammy Watkins to be a star


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.

91 responses to “For two first-round picks, Bills need Sammy Watkins to be a star

  1. Just like when they signed Mario Williams, they overreacted and way overpaid.

    Typical Buffalo small pecker syndrome.

  2. Too bad they spend two first round draft picks on a reciever who is going to be overthrown on every pass route that is longer than ten yards.

  3. They didn’t give up 2 first round picks. They just swapped a pick that was going to be used this year regardless.

    Michael David Smith replies: They swapped a pick that was going to be used this year AND a first-round pick next year. That’s two first-round picks, plus a fourth-round pick next year.

  4. Way Way overblown. Sammy was well worth what they gave up. Buffalo Bills 1st round picks dont carry any great value to us fans. Over the past decade, they have been used on names like Aaron Maybin, John McCargo, Marshawn Lynch, Donte Whitner, JP Losman, Mike Williams, etc etc. When you have a chance to get a cant miss guy like Watkins you make the move! At least any team who wants to improve does.

  5. This has shades of Julio Jones written all over it. Problem for Buffalo is, EJ Manual is nowhere near the same level as Matt Ryan.

  6. Giants got Webster Jacobs and tuck the year they gave up a first for manning. Don’t assume the bills next draft will be weak without a first.

  7. A great WR is never a huge difference maker on his own. He needs the great QB. Lots of teams with the best WRs in the league lose all the time. Detroit, Arizona and Houston to name three. For Buffalo to do better Manuel has to do better. That means staying healthy, which has been a challenge. Soon they could have the best receivers in the AFC, but QB is still the problem there.

  8. Pretty risky to give up a first round pick next year. It is rare for receivers to make a huge impact in their rookie year. Manuel has to get the ball to him before he even has a chance to make an impact. If it doesn’t work out perfectly, Buffalo may have surrendered a top 10 pick next year.

  9. I wish the Eagles had the 4th overall pick this year, and not last year. I love Lane Johnson, but Sammy Watkins is going to be a top 3 WR for many years to come.

  10. If you want to get technical they only gave up 1 first round (next year), they just flip flop picks this year

  11. I’m excited right now, no doubt. Watkins will be an added weapon to an offense that has a couple of good ones already. Their defense is respectable at worst, and top 10 at best. If Manuel/Spiller can stay healthy for the majority of the season, then they should compete to win every game, and be in the playoff discussion.

    However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have worst case scenario on the back of my mind. You know, EJ not living up to expectation, Spiller going down again, and not being able to use a top 5 2015 pick on a franchise quarterback.

  12. Doesn’t matter who the bills draft. They need a QB!! Remember all the wideouts Detroit picked early in round one? They had no one to get them the ball.

  13. Manual for a big guy seems a little soft.Similar game to Culpepper but not as strong.Watkins is a solid pick

  14. I can’t help but wonder why so many obviously high football IQ posters aren’t running NFL clubs. EJ Manuel has a grand total of 10 games under his belt, yet they all know he can’t play at all, never mind taking the Patriots to the wire in his first ever game and suspensefully ripping through the Panthers to steal the game in less than a minute. 3 very MINOR knee tweaks, and they all know he’s a goner, yet when New England takes an undersized tackle with both knees torn up, its a good move. Genius’s!

  15. I think overlooked is the message this sends to Bills players that they’re expected to win. For a team that’s been mired in losing for a decade, that’s a strong statement.

  16. 2015 top WR prospects (potential 1st round picks):
    Amari Cooper- Bama
    Nelson Agholor- USC
    Jaelen Strong- Zona State
    Stefon Diggs- Maryland

    …so the Browns really may have opted out of Evans/Watkins simply because they see the future potential, because let’s face it- Watkins will be a phenom BUT he has EJ Manuel throwing to him so it’s likely Cleveland gets a top 10 pick next year from the Bills and will nab next years top wideout.

    That said, as a Ravens fan I was elated to see this trade. The thought of Watkins across from Gordon is scary for the AFC North. However I’m elated to see them take Johnny A-hole. Good luck running around like a headless chicken against Pitt, Baltimore and Cincy…

  17. I will take it over Taylor Lewan this year, and TBD lineman next year. Buffalo needs to draft play makers and get linemen in free agency. That’s just the way it works when you are in a small market with a long losing streak.

  18. I dunno. I’m glad the lions didn’t give up that much to move up and get Watkins. Next year they can use their first rounder to get an impact defensive player. Wait….. Never mind, did I say defense? Im sorry… It’s pretty early in the morning

  19. Yeah, giving up the first round pick next year hurts, but I think the Bills realize that they have a 2-3 year window win. The Bills have almost no starters whose contracts expire in 2015, meaning that they can keep this core group of guys together for a few years.

    I doubt the Bills will make a push for a division title this year, but they have a talented young team that can compete for a wild card spot. Watkins becomes a part of a good, young nucleus of players that can actually stay together for a few years. If they use the money they would’ve spent on a 1st rounder on keeping the players they have in Buffalo, like Spiller and Gilmore, this may turn into a strong team for a few years.

    Or Watkins blows out his ACL in Week 3. As a Bills fan I know Buffalo has 3 things: 1. Unwarranted optimism 2. Soul crushing realistic expectations 3. Snow

  20. Great move for Buffalo, as a Dolphins fan I fear seeing this guy lined up next to one of our bust CB’s from drafts past for the next 10 years+. I dont care if they gave up next years 1st round pick they saw what they wanted and went and got it and if he turns out to be a top 15 player at his position then its well worth it because the draft is a crap shoot.

  21. Like in our regular lives, big mortgages equal failure. He’s not the guy throwing the ball.

    How many Super Bowl rings do these guys have?
    C. Johnson
    Julio Jones
    Dez Bryant
    AJ Green

  22. The beauty of the trade is that no additional picks in the 2014 draft were traded. Due to the rookie wage structure this draft saw the most early entries in league history and is expected to be one of the deepest in years. That strength dilutes the talent available for 2015. Kudos to the Bills front office for keeping a full 2014 class and moving up.

  23. You cant doubt the comparison to Julio Jones, but Atlanta at least had a structure around. And Matt Ryan.

    This is Buffalo. One star player isnt going to make them a contender. Especially a receiver. Theyre still not a good team, and EJ Manual is not even close to the same platitude as Matt Ryan.

    Guaranteed that pick they traded next year will be top 10.

  24. The funny part is that it’s usually the Browns giving up the house for the big pick…..this time the Browns were the beneficiary. Maybe they finally get it.

  25. This pick is a solid one; however, Marrone and Manuel better produce more wins than losses this year or they both will be on their way out of town.


  26. Anyone else takes Watkins and its thumbs up all around.

    I completely approve of this trade, apparently the pundits are just Buffalo haters.

  27. The Browns made out like bandits last night. I’m not a huge believer in Manziel at the NFL level but I loved the trading that they did last night. I also loved it when they traded T-Rich. If I was a Browns fan I’d be excited. They have a lot of talent on that team & if Manziel lives up to the hype the can be real contenders going forward. Farmer impressed me big time.

  28. Sammy Watkins has the potential to be a great player. You can even justify trading what the Bills did to acquire him.

    It’s just that they just traded to get Mike Williams (for next to nothing) they re-signed Stevie Johnson not too long ago, and they drafted Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Watkins can end up being better than all those guys, but it just didn’t seem like WR was a priority need for this team

  29. I swear the Bills are damn if they do damned if they don’t. Everyone would have complained if they didn’t trade up, and now there complaining that they did. I think it was a good move and its nice to see the Bills finally taking some chances. If EJ plays well they could have a deadly offense with all the weapons they have.

  30. Under the same logic that says that Watkins is the Bills’ first round pick in 2014, first round pick in 2015, and fourth round pick in 2015, that means that EJ Manuel, Kiko Alonso and Chris Gragg (a tight end that seems to have potential) are ALL the Bills’ 2013 first round pick, since they traded down and acquired more picks.

    In the end, however you want to slice it, the Bills used three first round picks (2013, 2014, 2015) and a fourth round pick (2015) and wound up with EJ Manuel, Kiko Alonso, Sammy Watkins and Chris Gragg.

    I am willing to be confident that those picks were spent wisely.

  31. When can any good come from trading your first rounder in the following year?

    I can understand if you were a Broncos or Seahawks trading away a late first rounder in order to win now, but the Bills are nowhere near that and are still favorites for last place. They just handed the Browns another Top 10 pick. Not smart at all.

  32. This is a win-win for Buffalo and Cleveland. Cleveland has a number one and there are still good receivers to play opposite of Gordon. They get another first rounder next year, and the best CB available, to play opposite of Haden.

    Buffalo needed a playmaker, and got one in Watkins. It’s a big risk for a team that is building to give away their first round pick next year, but it could pay off. He needs to stay healthy and stay away from the pot.

  33. They still need a QB. In 2 years when they have another 1st rd. pick the Bills will be looking for QB to throw to Sammy.Dumb trade!

  34. Risk and reward are inseparable. 14 years no playoffs…..same old same old wasn’t working. Love the move!!

  35. Should we be worried it took him longer to get to the podium than other WRs, and he messed up the route?

  36. The more I think about this, the better I feel about it. The Bills aren’t set to lose that many players next year, so they can plug up any position holes through FA & lower draft picks then. Assuming they pick up a starting RT over the next few days, they’ve given EJ Manuel everything he needs to put up or shut up this season. And like others have said here, it sets a mentality that rebuilding is over and ow it’s time to win. And last, the Jets suck – which is true no matter what. Just had to get that off my chest – the Jets suck.

  37. As a Jets fan that trade up was a bit annoying given we need a #1 receiver, but I don’t think Watkins is Calvin Johnson and worth that much that was given up by Buffalo. He still needs a QB who can get him the ball so I’m not so concerned..

  38. Because there is an opportunity cost to every pick. By using their first round pick to get Watkins they gave up the opportunity to pick any other player on the board in the 8th slot. EVERY CHOCE COSTS ONE PICK. In addition, they gave up next years 1st and 4th round as the premium to move up to the 4th overall slot.

    They gave up what they could have had with the 8th overall pick AND the their first round draft pick in 2015 AND their 4th round pick in 2015.

    Sammy Watkins cost three picks.

    The premium to move into the position to get Sammy Watkins = next years 1st and 4th.

  39. Not to mention this, but they stink.

    To stink less they should actually line up with 4 WRs or 3 WRs and Scott Chandler with 1 RB at every snap.

    Someone will be open and thus EJ Manuel has a better chance of making a completion.

    The current WR corps:
    Mike Williams
    Stevie Johnson
    Sammy Watkins
    Robert Woods
    Marquise Goodwin

    Woods and Goodwin play special teams and then they should keep TE Lee Smith inactive.

  40. Back to the

    The current WR corps:
    Mike Williams
    Stevie Johnson
    Sammy Watkins
    Robert Woods
    Marquise Goodwin

    Watkins, Woods, and Goodwin play special teams.

    Watkins is a KR.

  41. If they are REALLY hurting for that 1st next year, it means EJ Manuel failed. There is always a veteran stop gap to fill the role for a season or two in that case, and if that happens, who cares? They are going for it now and I applaud them. This team needs to make the playoffs, the time for waiting is over.

  42. Dear Doug Whaley:

    In your rush to try to seem relevant to the Bills new owner (whomever that may be) to try and make the playoffs this year with a bold choice in this years draft, you’ve forgotten that the Bill’s only ticket into the playoffs is a Wild Card berth, since there is no way – NO WAY- that the Bills are going to usurp the Patriots for the AFC East title. This means the Bills will have to finish at least second in their division and that is probably not going to happen, either.

    In doing so, you’ve squander next years first round pick and basically boxed yourself in with a n additional two year commitment to a quarterback who is incapable of throwing the deep ball accurately to your brand new star receiver.

    Expect to be fired within a year.


  44. The Haters have not been paying attention ! The Bills have systematically put together a solid team. They can still use a RT ( Chris Hairston is coming back from IR )and some depth but they filled their needs at LB to shore up their D. Line and Secondary are already there. Watkins adds another weapon to the Offensive Arsenal. It comes down to EJ and if he can stay healthy and continue to develope. Thad Lewis has shown that he is a very capable backup. When you look at the speed the Bills can put on the field, they will be able to stretch the field and keep teams from keeping 8 in the box to stop Spiller and Jackson.
    They were in most of the games they lost last year.If EJ can stay on the field, the playoff drought will be over. Go Bills !

  45. Watkins is an elite talent at a vital position. The Bills still are behind the Jets and Pats in that division. Reaching for EJ Manuel may have been worth it if he stays healthy because now Buffalo has two solid wideouts, a RB tandem, and maybe a franchise QB. They can show signs of life but not ready to compete just yet. Next year they watch everyone else draft and focus more on high priced free agents because that’s what you get when u play in no man’s land

  46. Buffalo really didn’t give up a lot they essentially swapped ones and gave a one next year i don’t see how that’s all that much for arguably the best player in the draft they could easily recoup that 4th round pick by trading down a bit…..btw Tom Brady is 38 not even The hoodie can out coach Father Time…the Bills time is coming

  47. As great a pick as any in the draft according the experts. Who knows who will be great or injured or flame out? The draft is like gambling, in fact it is gambling. Anyone on here who says Manuel is a bust or other crap is an idiot, especially after only 10 games.

  48. Watkins looks like he will be great, but seems like a high price to pay for him, especially when you don’t seem to have the answer at QB. I want to be a Manuel fan, but I’m leary of a kid who couldn’t beat out Ponder in college.

  49. I didn’t realize all you haters work for the NFL ESPN and NFL Network. Give this pick a chance to unfold before you bash it. Don’t just give it the day after the draft. For all you fools who thinks buffalo is moving remember Roger goodells from Jamestown ny they are not going anywhere

  50. Bills have solid players on both sides of the ball. 3 of our 4 defensive lineman made the probowl last year. Kiko Alonso finished 2nd in voting for defensive rookie of the year. We were 2nd in the league in sacks and I believe in the top 5 in interceptions. We were number 2 in the league in rushing as well. Now by adding Watkins our receiving corps is pretty solid as well. It’s pretty much on Ej on how far we’ll go this year. I feel pretty confident we can sneak into the playoffs this year. Just have to learn how to finish games but this is the best team we’ve had in years.

  51. Panic move. I’m sure Watkins will be a good player, but you never know for sure until the pads are on and the whistle blows.

  52. How many plays is a WR’s involved in during the course of a game? Ans. Not enough to be a first round pick.

  53. You don’t help Sammy Watkins become a star by trading away the threat on the opposite side of the field in Stevie Johnson… Which is being reported as the bills thinking.

    I certainly hope that’s not the case. Would be nice to see a team in that division actually threaten the patriots.

  54. Overstating the “Bills leaving so we need to fill the stadium” bit. The Bills are there for 6 more years, if Whaley and Marrone don’t win, they’re going to be gone long before the Bills are. They just care about winning, period. They’ve also done well with their second round picks the last few years (Cordy Glenn, Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods), so it probably makes losing next year’s first easier to swallow for them.

  55. Watkins is way too small to be anything more than a average to below average WR. Besides that, the Bills have the worst starting QB in the league with EJ Manuel who will be gone next year either by being horrible or getting into more off field trouble like last year.

  56. I could say he is a poor man’s this or that.

    But I’d rather say he makes Anquan Boldin the poor man to Sammy Watkins.

    I love what Boldin has been his whole career, and I think Watkins is the next generation of Boldin type player.

  57. “Farmer impressed me big time.”….. You weren’t impressed by Lombardi and Banner?

  58. No, they didn’t give up two first round picks.

    They gave up a 1st and a 4th to move up.

    They were only going to have ONE pick in the first round, they used it on Watkins, mortgaging next years 1st to do so.

    They didn’t not lose out on 2 1st rounders.

  59. Casserly actually made a good point…this deal is testament to their belief in EJ, because it’ll be hard to draft a replacement next year without a 1.

    Sure, it’s a gamble, and I’m more of a believer in stockpiling picks, but if they really can contend starting in Sept, then that 2015 1st round pick will be closer to #20 then #9.

    I hope EJ likes pressure; he just got an extra dose of it.

  60. I wouldn’t criticize that Buffalo made a trade, and from the opinions of all the draft experts they got the best reciever in this years draft. I just think they WaaaaaY overpaid for moving up 4 spots.

    According to the value system the move from 8 to 4 is a difference of 400 points. Even if Buffalo finishes with a 10-6 record they would be drafting something close to the 23 pick in 2015. That would be a 760 point value and the 4th round would be another 120 points. That’s a total of 880 points paid to gain 400 points. 880 points is worth a 1st round #19 pick.

    That’s what happens when you find teams that are desperate. Great deal for Cleveland.

    I’m a Packers fan so I have no skin in this. I just think it was a questionable deal. Not bad, questionable. It better work or heads will roll.

  61. A swap of 1st rounders this year plus next years 1st & 4th rounders. The Bills don’t need him to be a star, they need him to be the second coming of Jerry Rice & they need him to do it for as long as Rice did it. If he doesn’t put up Jerry Rice numbers for 10 years plus. They will have paid too much.

  62. The Bills were literally 4 plays from making the playoffs using 3 different quarterbacks. 4 plays (Stevie…) Your job is on the line and your that close, giving up a first and a fourth is a no brainer. Manuel will be fine. Quarterbacks take time to develop. Theres a reason Doug Whaley is in charge and you’re giving an opinion no one cares about.

  63. They didn’t give up Two first rounds picks, they gave up one and swapped they didn’t loose this years pick

  64. But Winston didn’t beat out Manuel and they say he is going to be good. Ok Buffalo traded their first round pick and everyone is hating on Manuel. I get that, however, if recent history has shown us anything, the 2nd round can have quality QB’s. Dalton, Kaepernick to name a few. That Brees guy is pretty good and Wilson was a third rounder. Everyone needs to relax. As was said before, staying the course wasn’t working. EJ is the key, we know it, they know it and even he knows it. Lets give the guy more than 10 games before we decide to say he is terrible.

  65. Take the top of defence

    You have to include this years pick as a cost of drafting watkins. Instead of drafting watkins they could have had 3 others players one this year in the 8th slot and 2 next year in the 1st and 4th rounds.

    The 1st round pick and 4th round pick next year is the premium to move up, but the total cost is 3 picks.

  66. With all the trouble EJ Manuel gets himself in off the field I don’t know why he is even on the roster still. They would be better off with Thad Lewis at QB. Overpaying for the right to draft Watkins will not help.

  67. Honestly what the heck does it matter if they give away a future 1st? They’ve missed the playoffs for 15 straight years with 1st round picks…a lot of good it’s done them.

    The roster of this team is fairly solid outside of the QB and nobody knows how he is going to play. They had nothing that resembled a #1 WR and now, in theory, they do.

    Teams have traded future firsts before. It’s not the end of the world.

  68. I really disagree with this article and its headline when they gave up one future first round pick and a middle round pick to not only improve the #1 this year but with the added he’s not considering. For one thing, there were only four transcendent players in this draft before a steep drop-off — Clowney, Robinson, Watkins, and Mack (see the Browns #9) and by signing Williams and drafting Watkins the mid-round pick was recovered when Stevie Johnson was no longer needed.

    The grade on EJ Manuel isn’t bad, it’s incomplete with him out 3 times due to knee issues — most importantly for a rookie QB when he missed two weeks of preseason. The Bills roster is very strong mow and they only need average performance from EJ to sniff the playoffs.

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