Grade : B
Round 1 Pick 4 – Sammy Watkins WR
Round 2 Pick 44 – Cyrus Kouandjio OT
Round 3 Pick 73 – Preston Brown LB
Round 4 Pick 109 – Ross Cockerill CB
Round 5 Pick 153 – Cyril Richardson G
Round 7 Pick 221 – Randall Johnson LB
Round 7 Pick 237 - Seantrel Henderson TE
With seven picks in the 2014 draft, the Bills constructed a solid draft that filled all the team's key needs. They picked up a wide receiver, offensive tackle and linebacker. Have Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Doug Whaley mortgaged the future for the present?
Their round one pick provided the first big trade of the draft. Desperate to grab playmaking wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the Bills moved up from ninth to take the Cleveland Browns number four pick.
Watkins was the best wide receiver in this draft and this was a draft that was overflowing with rich wide receiver talent. He has the potential to be a playmaker for the Bills. He is fast, strong, runs routes well, has safe hands and should make yards after the catch.
The price of for Sammy Watkins was the Bill's first and fourth round picks in next years draft. That is a really high price to pay for any rookie wide receiver. Overall though, Watkins is a fantastic weapon to give to last years number 16 overall pick EJ Manuel, and it's impossible not to be excited about what he is going to do to the Bills offense.
The Bills followed their first round pick up with another affirmation of faith in their starting quarterback by taking offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
Kouandjio may have the highest upside of any offensive tackle in the draft. He
dropped to the 44th overall pick because of a poor combine and concerns about a knee
injury. The Bills obviously don't have any concerns about these issues though because they drafted him.
At 6'7'' and 322 pounds with arms stretching to a massive 35 5/8 inches Kouandjio has all the physical attributes of an offensive tackle and, ultimately, a potential franchise left tackle. Even more promisingly, he shows the quickness off the snap to stop the pass rush and generally deal with fast defensive ends and blitzing defenders.
The downside with Kouandjio is that he could have done with another year in college to
iron out his technique. He relies to often on his speed and physical strength to get things done. At the moment he is less than the sum of his parts.
If the Bills can improve his technique in kick sliding into pass protection and maintaining the right head position, then they will have picked themselves up a steal. The bonus for the Bills is that Kouandjio should start at right tackle initially and so will have the time to correct his technical deficiencies whilst also contributing immediately.
The last position of real need for the Bills was at linebacker where they need to find a backup to starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes. They filled this need by drafting Preston Brown in the third round with the 73rd pick.
Brown has the frame and physicality of a solid middle linebacker. Where he will need to improve is in reading the game better and dropping into coverage. Time spent watching and learning under Brandon Spikes could solve this issue. If this is the case then the Bills could have found a real bargain in round 3.
In the later rounds the Bills continued the good work by finding some real value in the later rounds. Seventh round pick Henderson has first round talent but off the field issues that saw his slide to day three. If he can focus on football though they he could be something
Perhaps the best pick of the draft was guard Cyril Richardson. Weighing in at an imposing 6'5'' 329 pounds, Richardson should be able to dominate on the inside of the line and be a massive help in opening holes for the running game. With the pick of Kouandjio in round 2 and Richardson in round 5 the Bills have potentially drafted half an offensive line.
Overall, there is much to like about the Bills 2014 draft. The problem though is that the 2014 draft class has to be a hit. The Bills were a 6-10 team in 2013. By paying such a high price for Watkins, the 2015 draft class will be hugely weakened. If the class of 2014 cannot take the Bills into the playoffs then the Bills might not get there again for a long time.
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