Rookie Impact Projections: Buffalo Bills


Jun 18, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) runs a pass route during the Bills Minicamp at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

As teams are getting closer to preseason action in the National Football League, I continue my look at the potential impact the players of the 2014 rookie class will have for their respective franchises. The team up next is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills showed some promise last year but got struck by the injury bug and poor quarterback play. The front office knew they needed to find quarterback E.J. Manuel a number one weapon and to bulk up the offensive line to keep him on his feet. Each pick of the Buffalo Bills 2014 rookie class will be graded on a scale of one to ten, one being little to no impact this season, ten being an immediate high impact player. The Buffalo Bills made seven selections in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Sammy Watkins (Wide Receiver) – 1st round (Pick 4)

Watkins was the best receiver in the class and that is why the Bills traded up to get him. He’s an incredibly explosive player, a freakish athlete, and still has room to grow as a pass catcher. Watkins is a home run threat and potential star for the Bills. He will be a starter on day one and will command a lot of attention from the opposing defenses. The question will be how good is the chemistry between him and quarterback E.J. Manuel. That will dictate Watkins overall success as receivers usually have a bit slower transition into the NFL.

Impact Projection: 7 out of 10

Cyrus Kouandjio (Offensive Tackle) – 2nd round (Pick 44)

Cyrus was a sure-fire first round talent at tackle all season long. A poor combine performance and word of chronic knee issues derailed the first round hopes, and the Bills decided they would be the team to take the chance. If he can stay healthy, Cyrus provides an immediate day one starter at right tackle for the Bills filling a huge void. He also has the ability to play and slide into the left tackle spot as he excels in pass protection. The biggest question is his health. If he is healthy he will have a huge impact. If he cannot stay healthy clearly he won’t last long. Only time will tell in this case.

Impact Projection: 5 out of 10

Preston Brown (Inside Linebacker) – 3rd round (Pick 73)

Out of the University of Louisville, Brown has great size (6’1” 251 lbs), and is a natural tackling machine. Brown is big hitter, and has great knowledge of the game after being a three-year starter with the Cardinals. With current starter Kiko Alonso suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Brown’s role is likely to become much larger. The Bills are going to look for him to come in and start just like Kiko did last year and produce for them as the heart of the defense. Look for Preston Brown to make a name for himself this season.

Impact Projection: 7 out of 10

Ross Cockrell (Cornerback) – 4th round (Pick 109)

Cockrell is one of few players from Duke University to get drafted to the NFL, and for good reason. Cockrell is a ball hawk, and was Duke’s all time interception and pass break up leader. He has above average intelligence and the ability to get to the ball and fight for it. He also has played special teams and will quickly transition to the same role in the NFL. Expect Cockrell to get a chance in nickel and dime packages to create havoc in the secondary for opposing teams, and if injuries hit he could fight for one of the starting spots.

Impact Projection: 5 out of 10

Cyril Richardson (Guard) – 5th round (Pick 153)

Cyril was another highly touted offensive line prospect until concerns about his weight, conditioning, and motivation came in. He lost weight for his pro day at the University of Baylor, but lists him at a whopping 348 pounds. Richardson has the size and strength to be a road grader of a guard, but his weight and motivation come into concern about whether he will be physically fit enough to play football. If the Bills can give him the right motivation they have themselves a day one starter.

Impact Projection: 4 out of 10

Randell Johnson (Linebacker) – 7th round (Pick 221)

Johnson is an athletic pass rushing linebacker with good upside. However he leans too much on his athleticism and uses little to no technique when rushing the passer which will get him nowhere in the NFL. He will need time and grooming before he is ready to make an impact for this team.

Impact Projection: 1 out of 10

Seantrel Henderson (Offensive Tackle) – 7th round (Pick 237)

A risky selection by the Bills, Henderson is a big off the field risk. He was suspended numerous times while at the University of Miami for failing drug tests and he failed the one at the combine as well. He was out of shape at his pro day and did nothing to help himself at the combine with his interviews or performance. The Bills however see the incredible physical potential this kid has to be a starting tackle in the NFL. If Seantrel can get his head on straight he could be a pro bowler. If not he will find himself out of the league in a few short years.

Impact Projection: 2 out of 10

The Bills made the biggest splash of the 2014 NFL draft when they traded up for high impact receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins will be a long-term play maker for the Bills and provides them with the electric player they have been missing. The Bills then drafted numerous offensive line talents that are high risk high reward players in Kouandjio, Richardson, and Henderson. Preston Brown now finds himself thrust in the position to make a huge impact for the defense this season as well. The Bills actually managed to do a great job of matching value and talent in this years draft, and have a promising turnout for the class if things go their way.

Look for the Carolina Panther rookie projections coming soon! Joe Kleine is also co-host of the show The Direct Snap, alongside fellow Phin Phanatic and Rant Sports writer Tyler McMullen. Please check out our facebook at or check us out on Twitter at the handle, @Direct_Snap.