Today the Bills traded Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and the Rams' 2018 second-round pick. The trade has brought back memories of the Raiders’ elite 2014 draft class.
The 2014 draft wasn’t so long ago. It isn’t hard to remember the leadup to the draft, the top prospects and the Raiders needs at the time. A quick reminder is their top three needs were quarterback, wide receiver, and pass rusher.
We don’t judge these drafts with hindsight on our side. At the time the top quarterback was Blake Bortles, top pass rusher was Jadeveon Clowney, and top wide receiver was Sammy Watkins.
The first of those to go was Clowney at first overall to the Texans, Bortles went third overall to Jacksonville. That left one more draft slot with the next two top prospects being Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack and the Browns up.
It was a pretty good situation for the Raiders because it looked like they really couldn’t lose between Watkins or Mack or even reciever Mike Evans. But who they really wanted was Mack. And the Browns had a need at receiver.
Then the Browns made a trade. With Buffalo. Khalil Mack went to Buffalo. Ruh roh.
But the Bills went away from local hero Khalil Mack and got the consensus best receiver in the draft in Sammy Watkins. Making Mack the obvious pick for the Raiders at 5. Even without the benefit of hindsight.
Since then Watkins has had a decent career, but has not nearly lived up to his potential and his last two seasons were shortened by injury. Meanwhile Mack has had 30.0 career sacks and is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
The Raiders celebrated when the Bills selected Watkins, leaving Mack on the board for them. And that celebration continues today.