The Buffalo Bills picked some good players over the last few years, but it seems too many of them, especially high picks, can’t avoid long term injuries. As the longest playoff drought in the NFL continues, taking chances on injury prone players in the draft might catch up with general manager Doug Whaley eventually.
The Bills’ first round pick, Shaq Lawson out of Clemson, will be out until at least October due to a shoulder surgery he had in May. Their second round pick, Reggie Ragland out of Alabama, tore his ACL in practice last week, and will miss the entire season. Overall, five of the last eight first & second round picks by the Bills are set to miss or have already miss some serious game time, the front office might start holding Whaley more accountable for these injuries.
Sammy Watkins, their fourth overall pick in 2014, hasn’t been completely healthy despite not missing too many games over the last two years. Kiko Alonso, their second round pick in 2013, didn’t play at all in 2014, and is already playing somewhere else. Whaley isn’t helped by the fact that picking EJ Manuel hasn’t turned out very well. He was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 first round, but he’s a #3 QB at best at this point, actually surprising many that he’s still on the team.
The whole Bills depth chart has been thrown into turmoil due to the injuries. Both Lawson and Ragland were expected to start, but Adolphus Washington, their third round pick, is probably the only one from the top of the order of their rookies who’ll be on the field when the first game begins. Manny Lawson, who was probably going to start for Lawson, is out injured, which means IK Enemkpali will start for him. The Bills signed Brandon Spikes and David Hawthorne to help deal with the injuries, but Zach Brown will probably start instead of them.
The Bills finished with an 8-8 record last season, making it their 16th consecutive season of not getting to play in the postseason. During that time, they’ve never won more than nine games, and they’ve had only two winning seasons. Rex Ryan was hired to change that, and although there were some promising things to build on from last season, the draft becoming almost useless due to these injuries puts him in a difficult position to succeed, especially when it’s in the AFC East, with the New England Patriots ruling with an iron fist, and the New York Jets looking pretty strong too.