The Buffalo Bills traded up during the 2014 draft to take Sammy Watkins, but what would have happened if they had drafted Mike Evans instead?
During the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bills originally held the ninth overall pick. They used a 2015 first and fifth-round pick to trade with the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the fourth overall pick in an effort to have the opportunity to draft Watkins.
After the Bills selected Watkins, Khalil Mack was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Oakland Raiders and the Atlanta Falcons then selected Jake Matthews. Ultimately, that allowed the Buccaneers to be able to choose Evans with the seventh overall pick.
Let’s breakdown how life might be a little different for both the Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers if that would have happened.
Let’s assume if the Bills didn’t want Watkins that they wouldn’t have traded up in the draft. Also, he appeared to be the clear cut number one receiver in the draft class, so let’s assume the Buccaneers would have taken him with the seventh pick.
Evans would have fallen right into the lap of the Bills and that would have been the best-case scenario. While Watkins has been super inconsistent and bounced around the league, Evans has been the opposite. Tyrod Taylor was a solid quarterback for the Bills but he never had a true number one. Maybe all he needed was a guy like Evans to be his number one connection. So far for Evans during his career, he has played in 90 games catching 462 passes for 7260 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Most importantly for the Bills, they wouldn’t have had to give up the 2015 draft pick to get it done. The Cleveland Browns selected Cameron Irving with the pick the Bills traded to them.
The Bills could have drafted Irving or someone like Bud Dupree. They also could have used that draft pick for proven talent to give them more playmakers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s a bit harder to predict how life would have been different for the Buccaneers. Watkins probably wouldn’t be on their team anymore because of his struggles, so they could have still been looking for a number one receiver. In the 2018 draft, the Buccaneers might have tried to force taking a wideout in the first round. Instead of selecting Vita Vea, they could have selected someone like D.J. Moore or Calvin Ridley.
Either of those wide receivers with Winston would be a lot of fun to watch, but they wouldn’t be upgrades over Evans. The Buccaneers should be thanking the Bills every day for trading up to take Watkins and letting Evans fall into their lap.