May the Fourth Pick Be With You

Thank Doug Whaley for reducing an endless wait by a few slots. The time from season’s end until the ninth selection was too long for fans as well as the front office, so the latter figured they may as well climb to add Sammy Watkins. It was fitting that the draft’s most dynamic move was to get its most dynamic player. Regardless of one’s take on the deal, there’s no case to be made that the Bills were meek.

Of course, the Bills could’ve gotten Watkins without a trade if they had been worse than the Browns last year. But it’s better just to send them some assets. Buffalo is banking on improving enough to devalue 2015’s first-round choice. Yes, it’s mean to make the pick worth less, but football doesn’t care about hurt feelings. Cleveland probably won’t yet be looking to draft Johnny Football’s replacement, although we’ll see what the homeless man who advises them thinks.

(Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
The most dynamic move of the draft saw the Bills get the most dynamic player in the class. (Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Lightning could strike anywhere. With so many options, the team decided to not include Stevie Johnson as part of the Electric Company’s wideout equivalent. Change came as quickly as a 40-yard dash for the group’s youthful dean. A 27-year-old who has three times as many consecutive thousand-yard receiving seasons as any other Bill is suddenly only a historical part of this team. But here’s a promising young corps to help sad fans move forward from the loss of the man who perfectly embodied an imperfect era.

The Joker’s replacement possesses the enticing potential to become an agent of chaos. Particularly, Watkins could make life easier for teammates yearning for open space. Drawing defensive attention would help the running backs find undefended turf, even if the offense’s most prominent new asset doesn’t sub for them sometimes. Watkins did average over 6.5 yards per rush in a small collegiate sample, although rumor holds that he supposedly has a knack for running after catching the ball, too.

Adding someone with Watkins’ speed who plays much taller than his height makes it easy to forget about a dozen players who were possibly coming to work in Buffalo. With so much time for pre-draft anticipation, dreams of adding other magnificent players are natural. But backers hopefully didn’t grow too attached to first-round linebacker or tackle prospects who were never more than scenarios, especially with Watkins in town to assuage any ruefulness. Besides, Jadeveon Clowney will be a Bill in 2020 if precedent holds true to form.

For once, the reality was wilder than dreams by outsiders. Whaley’s job is to consider every possibility no matter how fantastical or implausible. And his opening-night swap made imaginative bloggers’ suggestions seem moderate. Even those uncertain that Watkins will produce at the equivalent of two first round picks should admire the boldness.

The steep price reflects the simple but oft-ignored reality that one must give up something to obtain a desired treasure. Such an assertive transaction may provoke apprehension, but imagine how Whaley feels: he’s the one whose job is on the line.

Just the thought of action is enough. The draft has gone from something the league never thought even the most ardent fans would watch to spring’s most anticipated sporting event. Football fans crave anything related to their sport, which is why the NFL figured it could turn the freaking Pro Bowl draft into a three-hour affair.

People tune in because the player selection process features the sort of unscripted drama that can only be surpassed during actual games and the Bills helped make it that way. They gave up a big part of next year’s draft for a player they hope will help them well past then. Besides, even prudent planners should let themselves live a little. Worry about the rent later, as the weekend starts now.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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