Bills GM Doug Whaley said you can't be afraid to make a deal. After the Jacksonville Jaguars took quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick, the first-year personnel boss struck decisively moving up from the ninth overall pick to fourth in a trade with Cleveland to take the consensus top receiver in the draft class in Clemson's Sammy Watkins.
"We thought it was a calculated risk and a risk we were willing to take," said Whaley. "It was a very high cost, but the high cost 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."
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In making the deal Buffalo did not surrender any of their picks in the 2014 draft. Instead they traded their first and fourth round picks in 2014 in exchange for moving up from ninth to fourth to take the record-breaking Clemson wideout.
"Yes we gave up something, but we thought it was a calculated effort and that it was a win for us now and in the future," Whaley said. "We're building our roster now and granted you hate giving up number one picks, but we thought what he brings to us now is worth the low one that we'll be giving up next year."
"We went into this draft saying we were going to be bold and we made a bold move," said Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon. "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."
Whaley confirmed that Watkins was not only high on their board, he was their top rated player overall. It had long been speculated that the Bills were making efforts to move up the draft board from their spot at nine. Buffalo's GM said two weeks ago that helping EJ Manuel progress entering year two as the team's franchise quarterback was their top priority and Watkins might be the best way to make that happen."Dynamic playmaker," said Whaley. "That's what this game is all about, making plays. This game is about making plays and surrounding our quarterback with playmakers. He's automatically going to make our quarterback better and us better as a team."
The conversations between Cleveland and Buffalo did not heat up until after the Jaguars took Bortles with the third overall pick. With about five minutes left on the clock the trade was approved by the league and the pick of Watkins was sent in.