In his opening statement to the media at the post-draft press conference, CEO Russ Brandon both expressed optimism and revealed the fact that this draft had to be different than past ones.
“We certainly are excited about what just happened,” said Brandon. “We went in to this draft saying we were going to be bold and we made a bold move. I just want to give a lot of credit obviously to our General Manager Doug Whaley and our scouts and the preparation that has gone on over the last eight months. Obviously Sammy Watkins was a player that was very, very, very high on our board and someone that we felt could contribute immediately and we’re sitting up here very pleased right now.”
The Bills were the first and only team in the top 10 to trade up, giving up their No.9 pick this year, and 1st and 4th round picks in next year’s draft. Whaley acknowledged that giving up a 2015 first-round pick is a “very high cost”, but the organization thought it was a much-needed move.
“We thought it was a calculated risk and a risk we were willing to take,” said Whaley. “The high costs not making the playoffs is something we weighed in and we thought this guy was going to get us to the playoffs. We think for us, the Bills organization, Mr. Wilson and the Bills nation out there, it was well worth it.”
Whaley said that Buffalo had talked with “a bunch of teams” throughout the week about trading up, and that the trade materalized with about five minutes on the clock for the Browns’ pick. Whaley saw the move as an endorsement of second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel.
“I think it’s self-explanatory,” said Whaley. “I don’t meant to be flippant about it, but that’s it. We want to surround EJ Manuel with every possible weapon he can to help us get to where we need to go.”
“We believe (Watkins) got great ball skills. He’s explosive; he can get in and out of cuts. He’ll be able to separate with his quickness and burst, but he also attacks the ball. He plays much bigger than his size and that is an added benefit for him, we like to say being open when he is covered. That elongates the target for EJ to have.”
Whaley would not elaborate on what the Watkins pick meant for the future of veteran receiver Stevie Johnson.
“This is all about our first round pick Sammy Watkins,” said Whaley. “We’re taking this all in, leaving this to you guys to pontificate on that. We’re all about Sammy Watkins right now and we’re excited about that. Stevie is on our team, he is under contract and that is another weapon in our arsenal.”
Watkins grew up a Bills fan, liking both the colors and “great receivers” they had in the past. There was one Hall of Fame receiver Watkins watched and developed a connection with.
“Andre Reed most of the time,” said Watkins. “That’s the guy I watched all the time and now he’s a future Hall of Famer. Actually I’m in New York, so he’s down here, so we were partying it up. I met him a couple times, he was at a couple events with me and told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing and one day I could be in his position.”
Watkins was happy to be picked up by his childhood team. He also didn’t see the Bills trading up to get him
“Very excited,” said Watkins. “Just a blessing to be a Buffalo Bill. Just to get started with the young guys on the team—EJ (Manuel), C.J. (Spiller), Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson. It is just a blessing.”
“I did not really think that they were going to come up to get me, said Watkins. “But I had my interview with them and Mr. Doug (Whaley) just kept telling me he was going to come up to get me. I was just thinking it was all fun and games—I was on an interview. Next thing you know, here we come May 8 and I am chosen to be a Buffalo Bill.”
Watkins knows Buffalo invested a lot in him, but is ready to contribute immediately.
“That is a lot, but for me, I think I am prepared,” said Watkins. “We have a great staff to get you prepared. I have a lot of great receivers that I can stand behind and get me to where I need to be. I need to be 100 percent when I get there. I need to be starting off on the right foot.”
“As a player I think I bring a lot to the table.You’re going to get a hard player, get a guy that loves the game and a guy that understand the game, understands the power of preparation. I think if I just keep doing what I’ve been doing at Clemson it will translate to the NFL.”
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