NEW YORK — Buffalo made the first surprise move of the NFL draft on Thursday night, and Sammy Watkins is glad it did.
The Bills gave up this year’s first-round pick, next year’s first-round pick and a fourth-round pick next year to move up five spots and select the former Clemson wide receiver with the No. 4 selection.
“I want to just go in there, start early, do the same thing I have been doing at Clemson,” Watkins said.
That would be impressive, considering the 6-foot, 211-pounder was a three-time, first-team All-American and the Tigers’ all-time leader in catches (240), receiving yards (3,391) and 100-yard receiving games (15).
“What’s great about this pick when you have a guy like Sammy Watkins is the explosiveness that he brings,” ESPN analyst and former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin said on the network’s broadcast.
Watkins took a selfie with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when he walked onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall following his selection and said afterward it was part of a promotion.
“He is the most dynamic player in the his year’s draft at the wide receiver position, in my mind,” ESPN analyst Steve Mariucci said. “They got a steal right there.”
The Fort Myers, Fla., native joins Banks McFadden (1939, Brooklyn) and Gaines Adams (2007, Tampa Bay) as the highest draft picks in Clemson history. He seemed undaunted Thursday evening about playing in upstate New York.
“Being at Clemson, I have seen a lot of snow,” Watkins said. “We have a cold winter. I can play in the cold.”
Watkins will join former Clemson star C.J. Spiller and former South Carolina star Stephon Gilmore with the Bills.
“It’s definitely going to be a blessing to go in there and start playing with a bunch of young guys,” Watkins said.