Buffalo Bills GM Doug Whaley has high expectations for Buffalo's rookie class, especially the team's top three picks. He's already stated that Shaquille Lawson, Reggie Ragland, and Adolphus Washington will all "start off the bus" for Buffalo. Since then, Lawson has undergone shoulder surgery so Buffalo's first round pick will have to wait to start.
In a conversation with Sports Illustrated, Whaley discusses his confidence in Lawson, Ragland, and Washington. According to Whaley, all three picks fill glaring holes.
“It’s just if you look at our roster," Whaley said, "there are glaring holes there and we expect, if we’re doing our jobs right, for Shaq Lawson to come in and take over for Mario Williams, and Reggie Ragland to come in and take over for Nigel Bradham, and then Adolphus Washington … we really only have two D-linemen that have played in this league with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams and then we have Corbin Bryant. But if we’re right, this guy is going to push to start over Bryant, so I think it’s more the holes we have in our roster more than anything. Hopefully, if we’re right with how we scouted, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have three Day One starters.”
Lawson won't be stepping in for Williams just yet, but his logic in regards to Ragland and Washington makes sense. The latter will certainly be challenged by Corbin Bryant, but he'll have every opportunity to win the job.
Although Whaley thinks all three rookies can win starting roles, the team isn't going to just hand the jobs to the players. Buffalo's GM admits that he is putting a lot of pressure on the rookies, but he believes they're up to the task.
“If they don’t perform, then they’re not going to play,” says Whaley. “We’re going to play the best people. We think they’re the best people, and if they come in and don’t perform that well, then we didn’t do our job right. So that’s on us. I have no problem with that. We’re putting a lot of pressure on those guys. We believe we have guys that have come from winning programs, and they’re not going to be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. They come from basically pro programs that know how to win, and they’ve been successful in their past, and we expect that to continue.”
Hopefully, for Whaley's sake, he and the scouting department did the job right. Their jobs may depend on it.