Normally, draft time is where I get to be optimistic and think about how this might be the year the Bills go 9-7. Not this year.
Buffalo’s draft was…controversial. When it comes down to it, the Bills essentially traded 2 first round picks and Stevie Johnson for Sammy Watkins. Watkins is a big receiving prospect with a good mix of size, speed, and hands, but top wide receiver prospects are risky and the average receiver takes about three years to hit his stride.
In round two, the Bills took Cyrus Kouandjio, an offensive tackle from Alabama. He has the body type and skills to be a great right tackle, but the problem is that there are two camps of front offices: those who said that Kouandjio was going to wash out due to injury within a year and those who said that Kouandjio would last 4-5 years before washing out due to injury. That is not a pleasant thought.
In round three, Buffalo selected Preston Brown, a middle linebacker from Louisville. Brown will learn from Brandon Spikes and eventually be a run-stuffer in the middle. I do like this pick because of how bad Buffalo’s run defense has been the past few years, so a third rounder who could potentially help for several years is good.
Ross Cockrell, CB from Duke, was the fourth rounder. He might be Buffalo’s next safety conversion project (after Jairus Byrd and Aaron Williams). If he stays at cornerback, his upside is (as Rotoworld puts it) a poor man’s Asante Samuel. This is the other pick I actually like.
Cyril Richardson is a hulking brute of a guard from Baylor and ended up Buffalo’s 5th round selection. If he keeps the weight off, he could be good enough to fight for a starting job at left guard, but he could easily balloon up and wash out.
The Bills had no 6th rounder, but they did have two 7th rounders. Their first #7 pick was Randell Johnson, an outside linebacker out of Florida Atlantic. He’s a fast linebacker with little skill at pass rushing. Buffalo might try him at defensive end, but I wouldn’t expect much.
Buffalo’s final selection was Seantrel Henderson, another offensive line hulk, this time out of Miami (and before that, USC). Henderson is a million-dollar talent with a ten-cent head. He has had three separate drug suspensions.
As part of this pick, the Bills traded a conditional 4th round pick for Bryce Brown, a running back formerly of the Eagles. Because what the Bills most need is another running back… Brown is young and has some talent, at least, and he might replace Fred Jackson after his contract is up.
All in all, I give this draft a rather low grade, probably a D. Watkins needs to become one of the top receivers of his era (and stay in Buffalo a long time) for this to be a good outcome. If everybody developed to their maximum potential, this would be a pretty good haul, but I see several busts in this crop and not much in the way of late-round bloomers. Henderson could be one if he quit hitting the hash pipe…but good luck with that on a team with Marcell Dareus.