As a Buffalo Bills fan, every NFL Draft is a special bonding ritual to welcome a new member to the team and community.
To every team and fan, the NFL Draft means something different. The old adage is that championship teams aren’t built through free agency, but through the NFL Draft. Thus, the Buffalo Bills are at that critical point where future championships are made.
The NFL Draft also marks the last real significant time on the NFL Calendar to add top end talent. Say you missed out on that big priced defensive tackle in March? No worries, maybe one of a few talented prospects will fall to you in the draft.
For the New England Patriots, the draft means very little, as they have their foundation. To them the draft is just like kids trading cards. The Cleveland Browns are playing MoneyBall, where the value is in the number of draft picks you have, not necessarily using them all.
For Jets fans, the draft is about getting on camera to be as upset as you can be about all of their picks. In Baltimore its an opportunity to ‘win’ the weekend like they seem to do every draft. They also remind us that there is still a long process of development ahead for all of these players selected.
For Buffalo fans, the draft is more personal. Our team is the often forgotten about NFL franchise. It’s the other AFC East team that isn’t in a large media market. It’s the place where media and opponents don’t want to travel after Thanksgiving for fear of getting a little cold.
The NFL schedule comes out each year and once again the Bills received the mandatory one Thursday Night game. A long playoff drought hurts, but it hasn’t stopped other teams during their playoff droughts from getting multiple primetime games each season.
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The result of this lack of national attention means only Buffalo Bills fans truly know these players and team. When the draft produces a Ronald Darby, Preston Brown, John Miller or even Nate Clements, other fans don’t know who they are because they don’t see them.
Before Beast Mode was a popular star and just around to not get fined, he was a comic book star at Ralph Wilson Stadium. We had maybe the best year on twitter with the #LegendOfKikoAlonso. We also were the ONLY people who were thinking the McCoy for Alonso trade wasn’t a slam dunk win for Buffalo at the time, because WE knew Kiko.
Buffalo Bills players and fans are truly on their own island. Quite frankly, I like it that way. The current players understand this and they appreciate the fans and community. The passion is about what happens on the field, rarely off it. Like Green Bay and Kansas City, Buffalo is considered a college-like environment for games.
The draft brings talent to a franchise that some players may avoid in free agency if they don’t know any better. Building through the draft is truly the only way the Bills will ever have a championship-caliber team. Or in this case, “Playoff Caliber” team.
That knowledge makes all the moves and misses mean so much more to Buffalo Bills fans. The trade up for Sammy Watkins is still talked about to this day, did we give up too much? In 2004, we traded back into the 1st round to get JP Losman, which didn’t pan out. During the 2013 draft, the Bills smartly traded back, tried again, but when they couldn’t find a partner selected EJ Manuel. While that pick also didn’t workout, it wasn’t a bad draft strategy.
The misses are just magnified for a franchise that has no room for error.
So ready or not, here comes the 2017 NFL Draft. Who will the Bills pick? I want them to go defense in round one, and then add to the WR and OT depth in the later rounds. What if they pick a Quarterback in Round 1? It will matter to each of us differently, but it won’t change the bond our fans will have with that player immediately.
A QB drafted early means ownership gave stability with our coaching staff and front office. A defensive pick might mean McDermott has a lot of sway. Or could it mean that Whaley is giving his new coach the tools needed to win? Picking a wide receiver supports our underrated quarterback, but does it mean he has all the tools to win? A QB, who if he was on any other team would be a primetime feature that couldn’t be missed during highlights.
A tight end at #10 means support for Tyrod, but also an emphasis to not lessen our running game.
All of these thoughts and options are why the NFL Draft is exciting to Buffalo Bills fans. We need the draft, and we will be the only ones to watch these players grow and hopefully thrive. We will know them as stars before anybody else. When the day comes that we do make the playoffs and appear on the national stage, we will not be the surprised ones in the room.
Go Buffalo Bills and enjoy the NFL Draft!
What excites you the most about draft day, Buffalo Bills‘ fans? Leave your thoughts below!