The Bills trade for Mike Williams brings up at least a couple of questions. Is it a good move? How does it affect their plans for the draft? In short, yes its a good move and it shouldn't necessarily take wide receiver off their draft board.
Even though the Riverside High School product was on the outs in Tampa Bay, its not a bad gamble by the Bills. The cost was next to nothing with the team giving up a sixth round draft pick. As far as Williams' contract is concerned, it could amount to basically a one year audition with his hometown team.
The 6'1" 212 pounder will have a very low cap number of $1.8 million this season. But next year it sky rockets up to $6.8 million and his base salary which is $1.2 million this season, increases to $5.2 million in 2015 and it is guaranteed. His cap number goes up over seven million in 2016 and 2017 and then tops eight million in 2018 so the Bills can evaluate how he does this season and determine if he is worth keeping at the higher prices.
Williams was very productive in his first three years with the Buccaneers and showed the ability to go up and get the ball, making him a much needed threat in the red zone. The question with the former Syracuse University star is his off field behavior. He reportedly had more than a dozen traffic citations, rolled up more than $200,000 in fines from the team for his tardiness and generated a handful of complaints from his neighbors concerning parties he would throw on a fairly regular basis. Williams also was charged with criminal mischief and trespassing for knocking a girlfriend's door off its hinges last December and was arrested for DUI in 2010. Charges were later dropped from both incidents.
Perhaps coming home and being around family and friends will keep Williams a little more grounded.
If it doesn't work out, the Bills are out a sixth round pick and $1.8 million but if it does work out, they have added a top two receiver and quite possibly have opened the door for Stevie Johnson's exit after the 2014 season. Johnson's base salary in 2015 is $5.5 million and his cap number is $8.85 million which means the Bills would be tying up over $15 million in cap room for two receivers which seems like a bit much.
Which is why I don't think we should rule out the Bills drafting Mike Evans with the 9th pick. It might not make sense now when you see Johnson, Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and TJ Graham among others on the receiving depth chart but what if the Bills have decided or will decide to move on from Johnson next year?
Graham hasn't shown much in his first two years and it wouldn't be out of the question for the Bills to cut him loose at some point. Even though Williams is said to play "bigger" than his listed height of 6'1", it can't hurt to add a big target like the 6'5, 225 pound Evans.
Of course, he might not even be there for the Bills when they are on the clock. Assuming Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is taken in the top five as many mock drafts are predicting, Evans could come off the board at seven to Tampa Bay who are now down a receiver after trading away Williams.
If that's the case, my advice to the Bills would be to draft Eric Ebron, the tight end from the University of North Carolina. The 6'4, 245 pound Ebron made a pre draft visit to Buffalo last Friday and is considered by many to be the best tight end in the draft. Ebron, who ran a 4.6 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, was a second team All American this past season with 62 catches, 973 yards and three touchdowns. He broke the ACC record for most yards in a season by a tight end, which was set by Vernon Davis. Ebron averaged over 15 yards a catch the last two years for the Tar Heels and would be an upgrade at tight end for the Bills.
Even though Scott Chandler was re-signed, there isn't much to get excited about in terms of depth. Lee Smith, Chris Gragg and Mike Caussin have combined for 23 NFL regular season catches. The "x" factor could be Tony Moeaki who had 80 catches in two seasons with Kansas City but Moeaki has battled injuries missing all of 2011 and most of last season.
Tight ends aren't typically drafted in the top ten. In fact, only two have been taken in the last 17 drafts. Davis went sixth to San Francisco in 2006. After a slow start to his career and a run in with former 49ers coach Mike Singletary, Davis has averaged 92 catches and more than 800 yards over the last five seasons. Chandler had a career best 655 yards last season.
Kellen Winslow junior was taken sixth by Cleveland in 2004. He played in only 2 games in his first two seasons due to injuries then put together back to back 80 catch campaigns. After a sub par 2008, Winslow's career was rejuvenated in Tampa Bay. In three years with the Bucs, he averaged 72 catches and just under 800 yards. I'd take the numbers from Davis and Winslow for the Bills.
In addition, the position has changed over the years and an athletically gifted player like Ebron will provide matchup problems for opposing defenses while also giving the Bills another downfield threat.
If you think the Bills would be better off taking an offensive tackle in the first round, keep in mind that position is one of the deepest, if not the deepest position in the draft. You might remember the Bills used a second round pick in the 2012 draft on a tackle, Cordy Glenn, and that worked out just fine.