Buffalo Bills Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – Round 1
This was a tough pick between Kouandjio and guard Cyril Richardson, but I think the former has more physical talent that will translate to the NFL. Some were critical of Buffalo selecting Kouandjio on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, but I think it was a good call. The Bills desperately needed to find a right tackle, and Kouandjio has a ton of athletic upside. The 6-foot-6, 322-pounder has nearly ideal size, length, strength and quickness to play left tackle in the NFL, so he should be able to develop into a quality right tackle.

Kouandjio occasionally had some issues in pass protection during his two years as a starter for the Crimson Tide, but playing right tackle for the Bills should help protect him. He had some ugly collegiate performances that really stand out, like last year’s Sugar Bowl going against Oklahoma’s Eric Striker. That being said, Kouandjio also had plenty of good games and improved his play over two seasons as a starter. Alabama had a lot of success running behind him, and that should easily continue in the NFL.

I think the worst case scenario for Kouandjio is he becomes a solid guard. With his first-round skill set for left tackle, he should, at very least, be able to move inside in the NFL if he doesn’t become a plus starting right tackle. With coaching and development, Kouandjio could be a nice value pick of the Bills.

Most Likely To Bust

Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke – Round 4
I don’t typically go with third-day picks as the most likely to bust, but Cockrell was a high fourth-round pick as Buffalo selected him with the 109th selection. Many felt that Cockrell should go in that range of the 2014 NFL Draft, but other teams told me they had Cockrell graded as a late-rounder and possible undrafted free agent signing.

The reason why Cockrell was viewed as a late-rounder by those evaluators was a lack of quickness and agility. They felt that Cockrell would really struggle to match up against speed receivers and they would run by him. Those teams believed that because of tightness, Cockrell allowed too much separation as receivers ran their routes and those issues would only get worse going against NFL receivers.

Cockrell has good intangibles, but will need a lot of development. Plus the Bills are strong at cornerback, so it will be hard for him to get playing time. The 2014 NFL Draft was extremely strong as there were players available who would normally go in the second or third round in other years. Instead, the Bills reached on Cockrell, and that always increases the bust potential.

Potential Boom Pick

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Round 1
WalterFootball.com knows a few NFL executives who said that Watkins was the only player to consider drafting over Jadeveon Clowney in the 2014 NFL Draft. Watkins (6-0, 200) is the best receiver to enter the NFL since the 2011 class that featured A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Watkins looks like he has the potential to become an elite play-making receiver on par with Green or Jones.

Watkins recorded 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. From his freshman season on, he had his way with cornerbacks and was capable of domination. Watkins’ first-step quickness is phenomenal, and he has a second gear to run away from defensive backs. While Watkins is very fast, he also is strong and physical with defensive backs. Watkins outfights them for the ball and can be a tough blocker.

The biggest issue that could hold Watkins back in the NFL is if he is stuck with bad quarterback play. The Bills needed to land a true No. 1 receiver for E.J. Manuel and couldn’t have done better than Watkins. However, the cost of a 2015 first-round pick to move up and get him is a steep price. If Manuel can develop and improve, Watkins should become a Pro Bowl-caliber wide out.

Future Depth Player

Seantrel Henderson, OT Miami – Round 7
Taking a boom-or-bust pick like Henderson in the seventh round makes all the sense in the world. The 6-foot-7, 331-pounder has the physical talent of a first-round pick, and with such a minimal risk, it makes a ton of sense to draft him rather than shoot for undrafted free agency. Falling to the final round should provide Henderson with plenty of motivation as he will have to fight for a roster spot. The biggest problems for Henderson over his career have been off-the-field distractions and a lack of work ethic. Leaving South Beach for Buffalo should help him to focus on football.

Henderson could be a good competitor with Kouandjio at right tackle. Kouandjio is more pro ready and should win that competition, but Henderson could be a nice swing tackle to back up Kouandjio and Cordy Glenn. With Kouandjio and Glenn ahead of him, Henderson may not become a starter in Buffalo, but he could be a talented backup if the Bills’ coaching staff can get through to him.

Walt’s 2014 NFL Draft Grades:

4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: C+ Grade
The Bills get an A for Sammy Watkins. He’s a stud, and he’s going to be a great receiver in the NFL. Having said that, they get a D for moving up. They surrendered a first-round pick in 2015, and given that the quarterback is still E.J. Manuel, it’s likely that Cleveland will have an additional top-12 selection in 2015 NFL Draft.

I really hate it when teams trade up like this. It’s only a good idea if they’re one player away. The Bills are most definitely not one player away.

44. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: C- Grade
Ugh, Bills, what are you doing? Cyrus Kouandjio didn’t look like a draftable prospect against Oklahoma in the bowl matchup. He had some other poor performances in 2013. He was seen as a borderline first-round prospect, but then some medical concerns came into question. Kouandjio should have been taken in third round, so this is a reach. He fills a big need for a right tackle, but Buffalo once again made a poor decision in this draft.

73. Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville: B- Grade
I had the Bills taking Preston Brown in the fourth round, 36 picks later. I feel as though it’s a slight reach, but it obviously makes sense. Buffalo signed a couple of short-term fixes at linebacker in free agency, but it needed an answer for the future at the position.

109. Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke: B- Grade
I didn’t quite understand the need, but the Bills brought in a bunch of cornerbacks throughout the pre-draft process, so it’s no surprise to see them select one at this juncture. Ross Cockrell, a tall corner, was seen as a fourth-round prospect.

153. Cyril Richardson, G/OT, Baylor: B- Grade
Cyril Richardson did not look like a draftable prospect in the Senior Bowl, but he has decent talent and could emerge as a quality backup for the Bills. Buffalo could be in trouble if he starts though.

221. Randell Johnson, OLB, Florida Atlantic: C Grade
I didn’t have Randell Johnson as a draftable prospect, and I heard zero buzz about him being on anyone’s board. But it’s the seventh round, and there is no such thing as a reach at this point.

237. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami: A- Grade
Seantrel Henderson is the definition of boom or bust. He has all the talent in the world, but is lethargic and has never put it together. If the Bills coach him up, they’ll have a stud tackle. If not, well, they wasted a seventh-round pick, so who cares?

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: C- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

Buffalo Bills Season Preview

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12