Bills bank on playoffs this season as part of big Sammy Watkins wager
Updated 10:19 PM , May 8, 2014
On the surface, tonight's trade breakdown looks like this:
The Buffalo Bills got the fourth overall draft choice and used it on Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
The Cleveland Browns got the ninth overall choice plus next year's first- and fourth-round draft picks.
But the swap has another, implied factor.
The Bills expect their 2015 first-round pick to be no earlier than 20th because they've banked on the playoffs this season.
If the Bills do end the NFL's longest postseason drought -- a big if -- then Watkins almost certainly will have helped.
That also would mean sophomore quarterback EJ Manuel probably had a solid year, and the Bills have found their quarterback of the future.
If the Bills don't reach the postseason, then they very well could find themselves in the market for another quarterback but without a first-round pick in a year that's believed to be good for quarterbacks.
"It's a very high cost, but we thought it was a calculated risk, a risk we were willing to take," Bills GM Doug Whaley said. "The high cost of not making the playoffs is something we weighed in, and we thought this guy was going to get us to the playoffs."
Whaley insisted he wasn't making a playoff guarantee, but he's obviously willing to bank on success to come.
Asked about a late first-round pick in 2015, Whaley replied "We expect it to be. ... I'm a competitor and, call me crazy, I like those odds."
The Bills have receivers who can stretch the field and work underneath, but Watkins can do it all. He plays larger than his 6-foot-2, 211-pound frame would suggest.
Watkins caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns last year for Clemson. He's considered the best receiver in this year's draft class because of his ability to outmaneuver defenders for the ball and gain yards after the catch.
"This game's about making plays and surrounding our quarterback with playmakers," Whaley said. "He's automatically going to make our quarterback better. He's going to make us better as a team."