For the Buffalo Bills, the 2014 NFL draft was all about helping E.J. Manuel improve in his second year as the signal caller in NFL.
In last year’s draft, the Buffalo Bills got their man behind center in Florida State’s E.J. Manuel in the first round, who was actually the first quarterback taken overall. This year was all about giving Manuel an offensive weapon and enough blockers to keep him standing to hopefully lead the Bills offense upward in the rankings. As a whole, it was the best plan for the Bills as they continue on their two-year plan to add needed talent, offensive playmakers, and depth.
The hope that the Bills depend on is that hyped wideout Sammy Watkins turns into more than just that and aids in moving an average quarterback into the top third in the NFL. Every great quarterback needs a top target, and the Bills traded for the hope that Manuel to Watkins becomes the usual.
Upgrades in depth for the offensive line came via Cyrus Kouandjio and Cyril Richardson, each selected in the 2nd round as offensive tackle and 5th round at guard respectively. Richardson could eventually become a top guard in the NFL if he continues to make improvements in conditioning and consistency. With Kouandjio, the Bill will expect him to supplant Erik Pears as the current right tackle and hope that by the end of camp, a new pair of bookend tackles along with Cody Glenn will be enough to protect E.J. Manuel.
The biggest question mark out of the picks in this year’s draft is Sentel Henderson, a 7th round selection from Miami. Multiple red flags surround Henderson which include compete-level ability, personality issues and maturity to play in the NFL. However, even with these blemishes, Henderson is blessed with some physical gifts that had him as one of the top prospects on offense coming out of high school. He could potentially be the steal of the draft by the Bills if he can adjust and grow, but as head coach Doug Marrone made clear, Henderson is on a one-strike deal with the Bills.
Entering year two of the Marrone – Manuel era, it has become obvious that the goal of the coaching staff was to bring improvement and consistency as well as bring in playmakers to threaten any spot in the end zone. With the talent that Sammy Watkins brings alongside Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods it looks like they have that now. Add to that the possibility of offensive line improvement with Kouandjio and Richardson, and Manuel should improve greatly by the end of his sophomore year.