Sammy Watkins’s Value for the Buffalo Bills
With the fourth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson University with the hope that he might take the troubled franchise and help it get back to its winning ways. Watkins didn’t come cheap: the Bills had to trade their first and fourth round 2015 draft picks as well as the ninth pick in the 2014 draft to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up to the fourth pick and grab him; so the Bills are expecting Watkins to earn them a trip to the playoffs very soon if not this season. There is a lot of pressure on Watkins to succeed immediately in the NFL, and he brings the skill set and talent to the team that the Bills need to start winning again.
Watkins was the top receiver in this year’s draft for good reason: he’s fast (Watkins ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine), explosive, and overall exciting to watch. Watkins is definitely the most NFL-ready receiver coming out of the draft this year, and might even be the best receiver coming out of college since A.J. Green who was drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fourth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Bills playoff chances don’t ride on Watkins’s shoulders alone, but he was drafted to help the rest of the team perform better as a unit. Quarterback E.J. Manuel is coming off of a rookie season that was cut short by a knee injury and will benefit the most from Watkins’s talent. Watkins couldn’t have come at a better time for the young quarterback: the Bills traded Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason; so Manuel needs all the help he can get this coming season.
A big, fast receiver like Watkins will also encourage the Bills to incorporate more passing into their offensive play calling. The Bills ran the ball more than any other team in the league last season which didn’t help in Manuel’s transition from college to the NFL last season. Manuel struggled in the passing game throwing for only 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns in his ten games last season. Drafting Watkins adds not only a reliable receiver to make Manuel more comfortable throwing the ball, but also more reason for Manuel to pass more often this season. The more in-game passing experience Manuel can get this season, the better the Bills will be moving forward.
Arguably the most important thing Watkins brings is excitement for the Bills in Buffalo. After a brutal offseason that saw the death of long-time owner Ralph Wilson and brought about uncertainty about the future of the franchise in Buffalo, Watkins is bringing excitement and eagerness back to the Bills fan base. Buffalo hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999 (the longest drought in the NFL), but with Watkins fans believe this may finally be the season that there luck chances. Fans want to see a big, immediate impact from the rookie; and Watkins is up for the challenge.
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