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ESPN's McShay mostly agrees with Watkins deal, remains unsold on Manuel

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ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay applauded the Buffalo Bills for getting the best player in the NFL Draft who would help quarterback EJ Manuel. At the same time, McShay remains iffy on Manuel as the franchise quarterback of the Bills.

Here's McShay on a conference call today in response to the question: Would he have traded next year's No. 1 pick for Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins:

"I understand what Buffalo did. Sammy Watkins is an elite player. You’re sitting there at No. 9, and you’re worried you’re not going to get one of the four elite players in this draft. I’m talking about Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack. Two of those guys are defensive players, and one of those guys is an offensive tackle. It’s highly unlikely you’re getting up to 1 or 2, regardless. I think at the end of the day, what the Bills ultimately wanted to do was go out and get the best player possible to put around EJ Manuel. If I had EJ Manuel as my starting quarterback, it would be a similar focus. That’s the best way I can put it. I don’t know that I would have made the trade. I know it’s giving up a lot. But I think it’s very clear there is urgency to get playmakers around EJ Manuel. If this thing’s going to work in Buffalo, they’ve got to have the best supporting cast possible. EJ has a lot of developing to do. I love EJ. EJ’s one of my favorite human beings I’ve been around in the draft process in the 15 years I’ve been doing this. But I said coming out, I thought it was a reach. I didn’t think they should have drafted him. And I think he has a lot of developing still to do. I think they recognize that after his first year. If they’re going to make this work, they better get the right people around him. For that, I applaud them for recognizing, self-evaluating, being aggressive and attacking the cause."

  • Andrew Y

    I've said for a long time that EJ was a 2nd or maybe 3rd round talent that the Bills panicked on and took way too high. A cardinal sin when it comes to the draft. I watched him play a lot at FSU, and last year I saw pretty much the exact same player. I'm not rooting for him to fail, but I would say that the chances of him being a franchise QB are not high. Having Watkins is going to help but we've really mortgaged the future with these two picks. It has to work.

    And if the Bills do 8-8 or worse this year, Whaley and the coaches are in real danger.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.