Bills' Rookie Update through Week 4

The Buffalo Bills currently sit at 2-2 and a quarter of the way through the 2014 season. It would be a good time to go back and look at how the rookies of this past draft have performed so far this year.

First Round: Sammy Watkins, WR

Stats: 17 receptions, 197 yards, 2 touchdowns

Analysis: It has been a first four games to the start of Sammy Watkins career. The rookie wide receiver from Clemson suffered a rib injury during the preseason against Pittsburgh that lingered into the season. He has been fairly quiet, except for the game against Miami, and a case could be made that it was E.J. Manuel who has been holding him back. The Bills have made the change to Kyle Orton and it will be interesting to see if Watkins becomes more involved in the Bills offense going forward.


Second Round: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT

Stats: Inactive for first four games

Analysis: If fans were told at the start of the season that a rookie would be starting at right tackle this season almost everyone would have immediately mentioned Kouandjio’s name. It has been tough for the rookie out of Alabama to make the transition from college to the NFL. He looks overwhelmed during training camp and preseason and has been inactive every game so far this year. There is still hope for the young tackle but he has to greatly improve his technique if he hopes to be a starting offensive tackle in the NFL.


Third Round: Preston Brown, LB

Stats: 21 solo tackles, 40 total tackles, one fumble recovery

Analysis: The case could be made for Preston Brown as the team’s best rookie through the first four games of the season. He has started every game this season and currently leads the team in tackles, which is shocking considering the team signed the run-stopping linebacker Brandon Spikes in free agency. The coaching staff will have a tough decision to make when their starting three linebackers (Spikes, Keith Rivers, Nigel Bradham) are all healthy. It will be tough to keep Brown on the sidelines and out of the starting lineup.


Fourth Round: Ross Cockrell, CB

Stats: None

Analysis: The fourth round cornerback out of Duke was not expected to contribute when he was drafted, rather he was considered more developmental. The Bills have solid depth at the cornerback position and short of a major injury, Cockrell’s playing time will be limited this year.


Fifth Round: Cyril Richardson, OG

Stats: One start against Houston

Analysis: After being inactive for the first three weeks, Richardson finally got some playing time. He replaced injured Chris Williams at left guard in the Bills loss to Houston. Similar to Cockrell and Kouandjio, Richardson needs some practice to develop his technique and learn how to use his size to his advantage. Both starters at the guard positions (Chris Williams and Erik Pears) have struggled this year and Richardson may find himself in one of these spots by the end of the season.


Sixth Round: Randell Johnson, LB

Stats: 1 Fumble Recovery

Analysis: Johnson was active for the first two games since but has been battling a knee injury as of late. The highlight, and really only stat, of his season was a fumble recovery against the Dolphins on special teams. Johnson is an athletic linebacker but needs time to develop and learn the position.


Seventh Round: Seantrel Henderson, OT

Stats: Four Starts at Right Tackle

Analysis: Alongside Preston Brown, the seventh-round pick has a strong case as being the team’s best rookie through the first quarter of the season. Henderson entered the draft with all the physical attributes teams want in an offensive tackle but many questioned his mental makeup. Since joining the Bills, he has been everything the team could hope for. He started training camp and preseason at left tackle when Cordy Glenn was out. He then switched to the right side when Glenn returned and has held the position ever since. He has had his good games (against Miami) and his bad games (against Houston) but these are the growing pains a rookie will go through. He should only get better as he gets more playing time and experience.

Be sure to stop by the message board and let me know your opinion of the rookies. Who has impressed you so far? Who has disappointed? What are your expectations for them the rest of the year?

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