Between Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin and Mike Williams, the Buffalo Bills have plenty of guys at wide receiver. But they don't have the guy.
At least, that's the way it seems after they gave up their 2015 first- and fourth-round picks to move up five spots to grab Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
There's no debate that Watkins is the best receiver in the draft, one of the best wideouts to come along since A.J. Green and Julio Jones in 2011. In fact, the trade actually sounds similar in nature to the price the Atlanta Falcons paid to trade up to the No. 6 pick (their first-, second- and fourth-round picks in 2011, and their first- and fourth-round picks in 2012).
Will Watkins have that kind of impact on the Bills offense? They could have waited to take a receiver, as the position is considered one of the deepest in this year's draft class, but Watkins is head and shoulders above the rest.
His versatility sets him apart from the pack. He can run the whole route tree and has the ability to take a short pass and turn it into a home run.
He's not the biggest receiver in this year's draft, but according to Bills general manager Doug Whaley, he plays much bigger than he actually is.
Whaley told BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown in February:
At the wide receiver position 'big wins' means a guy that plays big. He may be six foot, but if he continues to catch the ball away from his body and has long arms, then he'll play like a 6-4 or 6-5 guy. Now you can also have a guy that's 6-5, but catches the ball into his body. He doesn't play big. So it's not only just the physical measurements of being big, but being able to play big on the field.
Adding him to the offense could be the beginning of a whole new era at receiver for Buffalo.
Over the past two years, the Bills have added several speedy receivers to their group, with the likes of Graham and Goodwin both making their names as two-sport stars in football and track. Watkins is a more polished football player than those two, but he still has his share of speed (4.43-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine).
The Bills have had their eyes on Watkins throughout the predraft process. He was one of their 30 allotted predraft visits, and Bills president Russ Brandon expressed a desire to draft Watkins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
The long-term questions spread beyond Watkins' impact on the offense.
Bills fans may be giddy with images of Watkins and Johnson dancing through their heads, lining up opposite one another and tearing through defenses, but that may never come to fruition. Recent reports indicate Buffalo is less than attached to Johnson.
Before the draft, Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 Buffalo reported that if the Bills were to draft a receiver early, they would "then likely look to immediately see what they can get for wide receiver Stevie Johnson in terms of draft picks." Similar reports surfaced in April from Albert Breer of NFL.com.
It's clear the Bills have conviction about Watkins, because they limited their ability to help the team in the future in order to give them a bigger boost now. What else does that mean for the long-term future of the wide receiving corps? We'll soon find out, but things are beginning to take shape for the Bills offense.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases. Combine measurements and workout numbers provided by NFL.com.
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