Tonawanda News

Columns

May 11, 2014

At NFL draft, Bills go all-in on EJ Manuel

Tonawanda News — Bills fans have been obsessing about it for two months so I guess I’ll spend a few minutes analyzing my least favorite spectacle in sports: the NFL draft.

The Bills did a very un-Bills-like thing. They were aggressive. They traded away an important — potentially crucial — piece of their future in next year’s first round draft pick to move up five positions and select a wide receiver widely regarded as the best at his position. They also traded away next year’s fourth round pick. The team says they believe Sammy Watkins will be one of the league’s elite players, possessing the potential to win games entirely on his own.

He better be, because the Bills, by virtue of trading next year’s No. 1 pick, just went all-in on sophomore quarterback EJ Manuel.

That’s a big bet on what can charitably be described as an unproven player.

And to add to the head scratching, the Bills turned around and traded their incumbent No. 1 wideout, Stevie Johnson, for a third or fourth round draft pick. Watkins made Stevie expendable but he’s also been a reliably productive wideout, posting consecutive 1,000-yard seasons before in his career. 

So, if you’re keeping score at home, the Bills just traded their No. 1 pick for a guy who I’d be thrilled to see met his predecessor’s productivity.

The logic, if you want to call it that, is Manuel will have every opportunity to succeed. Johnson wasn’t as productive under the new offensive scheme put in place by Doug Marrone. He never developed the chemistry with Manuel he displayed under Chan Gailey with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. 

And while I was always a Johnson fan, it became impossible to ignore his penchant for awful drops at even worse times in the game. 

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