Sammy Watkins has over 2,000 yards receiving in his first two seasons in the league.
The 2016 NFL draft is four days away. Who have the Buffalo Bills drafted at pick 4?
Buffalo has drafted five players at pick 4. Here’s a look at the former Bills draft picks.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (2014)
Sammy Watkins was Buffalo’s top player in the entire 2014 draft class. At pick nine, Buffalo knew that they had no shot of drafting the wide receiver without a trade. The Bills reportedly tried to move up to the first overall pick in the draft, but couldn’t work out a deal with the Texans. After three picks came off the board, Buffalo found a partner in the Cleveland Browns. Buffalo sent their first round pick in 2014 (9th overall) as well as their 1st and 4th round picks in 2015. Looking back on the trade, the Bills were the big winners.
Cleveland traded up to the eighth pick using Buffalo’s pick and selected cornerback Justin Gilbert. The cornerback hasn’t come close to playing like a top ten pick. In 2015, Cleveland added Cameron Erving and Ibraheim Campbell with Buffalo’s picks. It’s too soon to write off any of these players, including Gilbert, but the trio of players are underwhelming compared to Watkins.
As a rookie, Watkins caught 65 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns. It was a very good rookie season, and when you consider the fact that EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton were Buffalo’s QBs, Watkins’ first year looks great.
In his second season, Watkins dealt with ankle and calf injuries and it hampered his play in the first seven games of the season. Watkins missed three games due to injury and went without a catch in the season opener. At the bye week (Week 8), Watkins had 11 receptions, 147 yards, and two touchdowns. It didn’t look good for the receiver but then two things changed Watkins’ sophomore season. His health improved and he regained his burst on the field, and his chemistry with first year starter Tyrod Taylor improved. Over the final nine weeks, Watkins exploded. He caught 49 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. Watkins had six consecutive games to end the season with at least 81 yards to end his season. He finished the season with 1,047 yards receiving and nine touchdowns on 60 receptions in 13 games. In two years, Watkins has 125 receptions for 2,025 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns.
Although the Bills will still be a run-first team in 2016, Watkins’ targets should increase in his third season. Based on the chemistry he displayed with Taylor at the end of the season, Watkins could have a huge year in 2016.
Mike Williams, OT, Texas (2002)
Williams was an absolute bust, but it’s hard to blame the Bills for their selection. Williams was highly rated by all draft analysts and was considered to be one of the best players in the draft. At the time, Buffalo had acquired Drew Bledsoe via trade and the team was looking to protect the quarterback.
Unfortunately, Williams never came close to living up to his draft status. He started in 42 games over his first three seasons, but struggled on the field. By his fourth season in Buffalo, Williams appeared in nine games, starting six, before losing his job to Jason Peters.
Williams was released by Buffalo in 2006. He was signed by the Jaguars but never appeared in a game with the team. In 2009, Williams was signed by the Washington Redskins. He recorded eight starts in Washington due to injuries and played well at right tackle. The team gave the tackle a two-year deal after the season. Williams missed the 2010 season due to blood clots and was released in 2011.
J.D. Hill, WR, Arizona State (1971)
Hill spent five seasons in Buffalo and recorded 60 starts in 61 games. During his time in Buffalo, Hill caught 160 passes for 2,631 yards and 20 touchdowns. His best season came in 1972 when he was named to the Pro Bowl. That year, Hill caught 52 passes for 754 yards and five touchdowns. He set career highs in receptions and yards that season. Hill’s career high in touchdowns came in 1975 when he caught seven TDs.
Hill’s last two seasons came with the Detroit Lions. In 12 games, Hill caught 25 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown.
Dave Behrman, C, Michigan State (1963)
Behrman appeared in 14 games as a rookie but missed the 1964 season. He was the team’s starting center in 1965 and was named an AFL All-Star that season. A back injury kept Behrman out of the 1965 AFL Championship game. He missed the 1966 season and played the 1967 season with the Broncos.
Ernie Davis, RB, Syracuse (1962)
Davis had a brilliant college career at Syracuse. In three seasons, Davis rushed for 2,486 yards and 20 touchdowns on 360 rushing attempts. His best season came in 1961 when he rushed for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns. Davis also recorded 392 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 38 receptions.
He won the Heisman Trophy in 1961 as well as the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy. Davis was drafted by the Bills in the AFL and the Redskins in the NFL. Washington traded Davis to the Browns and the back decided to play for Cleveland. Unfortunately he never played a professional down due to being diagnosed with leukemia. Davis passed away in 1963.
In 1977, Davis was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. A movie, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, was released in 2008.