Warning signs for Bills' top pick

Sammy Watkins' impact appears unlikely to equal price Buffalo paid

Updated: May 15, 2014, 1:40 PM ET
By Scott Kacsmar | Football Outsiders

Sammy WatkinsTyler Smith/Getty ImagesDon't expect Sammy Watkins' production to mirror his numbers at Clemson.

After 14 seasons without reaching the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills are one missed postseason away from tying the second-longest drought by a team in the Super Bowl era. When you're the only team in the NFL to not make the postseason this century, drastic moves are necessary.

For the second straight draft, the Bills might have made the most surprising move of the first round. Last year they traded down before selecting EJ Manuel as the first quarterback in the draft at No. 16. This year, the Bills moved up with the hefty cost of giving up next year's first-round selection to get Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 overall pick. If there was any doubt on what type of role he would play in 2014, the Bills made it clear when they traded Steve Johnson to San Francisco last Friday.

The young quarterback needed a primary weapon, and the Bills answered with Watkins, considered by most as the best wide receiver in the draft. What could possibly go wrong with this move?

Well, given the huge investment, Watkins has a lot of pressure to perform at an elite level. Teams can find plenty of receivers capable of gaining 1,000 yards given enough targets. Lee Evans and Steve Johnson did that a total of five times as Bills, but the average Buffalo offense has ranked 23rd in points per drive since 2003; the highest ranking was 14th in 2004. Watkins has to change the dynamics of the Buffalo offense the way a top pick should.

However, there's some doubt on just how well Watkins' game will translate to the NFL.

Scott Kacsmar

Football Outsiders
Scott Kacsmar is an Assistant Editor at Football Outsiders.