The most interesting NFL Draft to talk about in my memory is over. The Bills didn't draft a famous quarterback, they didn't have multiple first-round picks and they didn't pick first. Still, it was my favorite year of this.
This draft, with the Bills picking ninth and being rumored to trade up, had all the intrigue you could ask for, and that's good because probably next year there will be none. Enjoy your young children because someday they'll move out.
I got caught up in the excitement and as the draft drew closer began favoring every trade-up rumor I heard (except for ones involving an offensive tackle). You want me to trade my first-round pick from next year? Fine. You want the one after that? How about the one after that? Now do we have a deal? I love deals.
The Bills, of course, did trade up to pick Sammy Watkins, and did spend next year's first-rounder.
Here's what you have to know:
I am a spender. Scenarios present themselves in life, and when they do in my family I'm the one who says "Let's do it" or "We won't miss the money", phrases like that. I like to look back on certain major purchases and point out that I enjoy having the item so much that I'd have paid more for them. The money doesn't give me satisfaction; the car, or the house, or the baseball card does. May I say so, even adopting children qualifies.
This is not to say that my way is right all or even some of the time. My wife is not a spender. She is very smart. People are different. I often over-spend on nice things for her because I know she will not buy them for herself.
So what, you ask? We talk about these trade scenarios as if we're all like-minded -- we are in the sense that we favor the Bills, but we're not the same in how we look at money, and future draft picks are like money. If you don't like this trade it may be because you have a better appreciation for money saved than I do, not because you don't like Sammy Watkins. Likewise, you may like this trade simply because you think in the short term and don't get tripped up -- for better or worse -- by future considerations.
A spender is not a good saver, and I definitely am not a good saver. I don't plan very well. I am not good at setting goals and meeting them. I think I am partly this way because my job is this way; every show is an independent entity. If I were in construction, building houses or something step by step, day by day, I think I'd be better at this in my life than I am from hosting a talk show where you start over every day, striving anew to keep an audience. Hosting a talk show is a little like pressing that button in the hatch on "Lost".
The voices in my head that advise me to spend less and save more -- my wife, my parents, my friends' wives -- they're smart, disciplined people. Being a spender carries certain negative connotations, such as short-sightedness and impetuousness. My best defense against these saver-types is to tell them I have more fun than they do, which may or may not be true.
As such, the Bills should have more fun this season than the Browns, at least in terms of Watkins vs. Cleveland's later pick, Justin Gilbert. Come next season, we'll see.
Assigning value to draft picks in football isn't merely a case of personal style, of course. We have historical precedent. We have draft-value charts. We have ways of knowing what every pick tends to be worth.
From this standpoint, the Bills made a poor decision by this trade.
Analytics-minded football writers that I often take my lead from mocked the Bills for this deal. You simply don't deal a first-round pick to move up from the 9th spot to the 4th, they assert -- and the Bills gave Cleveland a fourth-rounder as well.
This presents a dilemma for me because almost always I want to defend the smarter turf. Can someone like this trade for the Bills and not betray that?
I don't think so.
But that's OK.
The Bills haven't made the playoffs in forever and have done well to give their fans some excitement. Those moments where the trade and then the pick were announced were super-exciting. That means something. No, the Bills did not appear to make a "smart" move here. But they did something fun and different, and I thank them for it.
We may forever wonder if Doug Whaley, Doug Marrone and even Russ Brandon were swayed by uncertain futures in their jobs. If we felt we didn't have long for our jobs, or dare I say our lives, wouldn't we proceed differently than we ordinarily do? None of these three men has winning on his record -- and Brandon's been around for the entire playoff drought. I believe this factor played into the Bills' decision to make the trade.
I can accept it though. I think I would do likewise. And, it can work. If Watkins is a star and helps the Bills win something, he can be remembered the same way Cornelius Bennett is. When it works, we don't care so much about the price.
The same is true in life. When you buy something you cherish, you don't obsess about what it cost. When you buy something expensive and it doesn't satisfy you, you can't stop thinking about what it cost.