Will McGahee shock turn to awe?

Even Tom Donahoe said it: "Was there anybody in Buffalo who wasn't in shock?"

That was after two days of drafting, and he still was referring to the Bills' taking Willis McGahee with their first pick a day earlier.

Shock? Yes. Awe? Not yet anyway. Dismay? More likely.

No doubt Donahoe and Tom Modrak – and Gregg Williams, if he had any say in the matter – saw the McGahee who ran over Miami's opponents last fall.

They tried to put out of their mind's eye the newer-model McGahee – the one with the reconstructed knee, the one who as a result of the injury might not be able to play until 2004 and might never be as good as he was before last season's national championship game. They went so far to avoid that image that they didn't even go to McGahee's very public workout.

It's too early to know whether the Bills struck it rich with their gamble or lost a chance to draft a safe pick who would contribute for a few years.

But we do know one thing: They played their hand beautifully in the weeks leading up to the draft.

As an insurance policy, they signed Travis Henry to a bargain contract extension through 2005, so they will either have his services without causing salary-cap problems if McGahee can't step in or will be able to trade Henry easily for good value at another position.

To throw other teams and the media off the scent, they signed another starting-caliber running back, Olandis Gary, and seemed so noncommittal, nonchalant toward McGahee that I – for one, but not the only one – thought they weren't interested in him.

As Donahoe himself often says, there's more to the draft than the first round. For that reason, we're more likely to judge this draft on the role players Buffalo chose after creating a shock wave throughout the NFL in the first round. Let's see whether the Bills receive sufficient value from those smaller aftershocks.

Buffalo Football Report Top Stories