by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Buffalo Bills have been one of the worst teams in the NFL the past 15 years and currently have the longest playoff drought in the NFL. This drought can somewhat been attributed to their failures in the draft but things may finally start turning around for the franchise. The Bills recorded their first winning season since 2004; and with the nice young talent acquired over the past five drafts, the Bills are close to getting over the hump.
When talking about a team that has not made the playoffs since the 1990s, you have to start with the bad. The biggest bust of the past five years has to be the 2010 2nd round pick Torrell Troup. Troup never made an impact with the Bills and often battled injuries. He was released in 2013 after spending the 2012 on injured reserve. Now the next person is unfair to call a bust but when you are picked in the top 10 of the draft much more is expected from you. This athlete is former Clemson star C.J. Spiller. Spiller showed flashes of his greatness especially in his 2012 Pro-Bowl season but he never consistently produced like you would have expected. Spiller still has the potential for a renaissance now that he will be playing in Sean Payton’s offense in New Orleans but his career with the Bills just did not quite live up to his draft selection. The Bills had a few more players that did not really cut it in the NFL but none were picked as high as this pair. The last player who at the moment is considered a questionable pick is quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel was drafted in the first round and has gotten some significant playing time at quarterback in his first two years. While it is too early to label him a bust, all signs have pointed to him not being the answer at quarterback. Manuel is likely to be the backup to Matt Cassel for the 2015 season.
Now the Bills have grabbed some very good young players from the past five drafts, and these players have turned the Bills into a potential playoff team in the future. The biggest name out of this young crop of talent is defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Dareus came in with a lot of promise as he was selected with the 3rd pick in the 2011 Draft, and he has certainly lived up to that pick. Dareus has appeared in all but one game in his NFL career and has been selected to the last two Pro Bowls. Dareus has emerged as one of the best young defensive lineman in the NFL. Dareus is not the only young player to make an impact on one of the best defenses in the NFL. Aaron Williams, Stephon Gilmore, Nigel Bradham, Duke Williams, and Preston Brown have all made an impact on defense and are expected to start in 2015. The Bills had also appeared to draft a linebacker that would be a star for them for years in Kiko Alonso. However, Alonso was traded to the Eagles for Lesean McCoy after missing the entire 2014 season to a torn ACL.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bills have acquired both of their current starting tackles in Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson. Henderson could be the steal of the 2014 Draft as he started all 16 in 2014 after being drafted in the 7th round. Henderson was a high school phenom who seems to have finally put it together in the NFL. Also on offense is the biggest name of the Bills’ 2014 Draft in Sammy Watkins. Watkins produced a solid rookie year but was outshined by other receivers drafted in the first round most notably Odell Beckham Jr. The Bills traded up, including their 2015 1st round pick, to get Watkins. He was the first receiver selected in what looks like an all-time great wide receiver class. Although unfair to Watkins, he will have to outshine players like Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin since the Bills gave up so much to draft him.