In a league where three or four plays can change the outcome of a game, the Bills chose the one player in the draft that provided game changing plays more than any other prospect in the class in Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller.
“He’s a playmaker. He’s a guy that creates field position and scores points,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix. “He’s exciting. We need some excitement, somebody that can make a big play and create some things on their own.”
Spiller was that and more for Clemson with 53 total touchdowns in his career if you count the two that he threw for scores. The multi-faceted back had 32 touchdowns rushing, 11 receiving, seven on kickoffs and one punt return for a score. His eight return touchdowns tied an NCAA record.
“We’re devoid of big playmakers,” said Nix flatly. “We’ve got good players, but I mean a guy that’s got this kind of world class speed. He can help us in so many ways. We’ve got returners, but this guy is going to be in the mix, he’s a guy that can get you field position. You can throw it to him or you can hand it to him. I’m excited about giving a guy like this to Chan Gailey and see what he can do with him. He’ll use him in a lot of different spots. He’ll be creative with ways to get him the ball.”
For a Bills offense that has languished near the bottom of the league in total offense the past seven seasons and has ranked better than 23rd in scoring just once in that time frame, Buffalo believes Spiller can help change those numbers for the better. He was the only player in college football last season to score a touchdown in every game he played.
“I just remember all the conversations I had when I went out to Buffalo,” said Spiller. “And I had a good feeling that that’s where I was going to land. I’m very excited that they made that decision, and it’s one they’ll never regret. I’m going to come in there and I’m going to work hard.”
There has been much speculation about Marshawn Lynch’s future, but when asked how the selection of Spiller impacts Buffalo’s 2007 first-round pick, Nix maintained it has no impact.
“It doesn’t change a thing,” said Nix. “(Lynch is) still ours and we intend for him to be here.”
Nix described Spiller has a hybrid type back as he has often been compared to New Orleans back Reggie Bush. In fact Spiller and Bush are the only two backs in college football history with 3,000 rushing yards, 1,500 kickoff return yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 500 punt return yards in a career.
Spiller however, was a better big play scorer with 21 career touchdowns of 50 yards or more. That’s more than former Heisman trophy winners Tim Brown and Bush.
“I think you compare him to Bush and (Minnesota’s Percy) Harvin,” said Nix. “He’s that kind of dynamic player that can hurt you in a lot of ways.”
“I try not to compare myself,” said Spiller. “Every guy is very different. That’s the thing that I kept preaching to teams when I kept meeting with them. You’re not going to draft either one of those guys. The guy you’re drafting will be C.J. Spiller. It’s an honor just to be mentioned amongst those two because of what they’ve done in the NFL.”
It’s likely that Spiller will be used similarly to the way the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints utilize Bush, who is often split out wide, used on stretch plays and as a punt returner. Spiller however, runs a lot tougher than he’s given credit for as a 196-pound tailback. Though he excels outside the tackles he has shown an ability to take the ball north-south when necessary, which give Nix confidence he can be more than just a boundary type player.
“He’s the same size as Chris Johnson and (Johnson’s) just a fuzz faster,” said Nix who had Spiller clocked with a 4.32 40-time at the NFL combine. “Chris Johnson gained 2,000 yards, he had to get some of it inside.”
“Whatever my role is my main focus is just winning the Super Bowl, getting to the Super Bowl, bringing back the glory days that used to be up in Buffalo,” said Spiller. “That’s my main focus. That’s all I’m worried about. I’m not worried about how I’ll be used in the offense or how many catches I have. My main focus is what can I do to help this team reach the Super Bowl.”
Nix was asked about the other positional needs the team has coming into this draft, most notably the offensive and defensive lines. For Buffalo’s general manager, he believes there will still be opportunities to fill those holes with their eight remaining picks.
“Need is important, but it had to be a guy that we thought was the player that could come in here and start immediately,” said Nix. “Not to say that some of those guys couldn’t, maybe they could, but we also think we have a chance to get that position filled later on in the draft. There’s only one Spiller.”
NFLDraftScout.com contributed to this report