Shortly before they shuttled their previous top wide receiver across the country, the Buffalo Bills introduced their shiny new toy to their long-suffering fan base.
"My mentality is to score every play," Sammy Watkins said Friday, less than 24 hours after the Bills traded their first-round pick next year to land the dynamic former Clemson star. "That's my mentality, to score and catch every ball that touches my hands."
That type of bravado isn't new to the ears of Bills fans. They have listened for years to the outspoken Stevie Johnson, who the Bills agreed to trade to the San Francisco 49ers on Friday afternoon.
While Johnson was clearly the most talented wide receiver in Buffalo over the past four seasons, he wouldn't qualify as a true No. 1 receiver for most NFL teams. He's a good possession receiver who lacks home run speed and was too often shut down by elite cornerbacks.
Watkins brings a different package to the Bills - a fleet-footed, versatile playmaker who is a threat to score off reverses, bubble screens, deep passes and any other number of ways offensive coordinator Paul Hackett can get the ball in his hands.
General manager Doug Whaley admitted the cost to move up five spots to the No. 4 overall pick Thursday was steep, but he also believes Watkins is the key missing ingredient between an also-ran and a playoff contender.
"Throughout my whole life I've been having high expectations for myself and my coaches and my parents and peers also," said Watkins. "For me it's to keep doing what I've been doing, which is working hard and being a great citizen. Just translate that to this team, to the Buffalo Bills and I'm 100 percent committed to the game and to myself. I think for the most part I come in and get behind some great, great guys and some great receivers and coaches and listen. I'll be perfectly fine."
Watkins was six the last time the Bills made the playoffs, and he contends he was a fan of the team while growing up in Fort Myers, Fla.
"Growing up you want to be playing with the best team in the game and you love the colors," he said. "Growing up playing my dad, my brother and my cousins, I always used the Bills. Just using Drew Bledsoe, Andre Reed, Eric Moulds, all those guys and Takeo Spikes on defense."
While much is expected of Watkins, the Bills have quietly assembled strong playmaking talent for second-year quarterback EJ Manuel. Along with Watkins, the Bills acquired 6-foot-2, 212-pound wide receiver Mike Williams from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason and have second-year players Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin to go along with speedster T.J. Graham and a host of other contenders for roster spots.
For his part, the 20-year-old Watkins sounds like a rookie committed to justifying the bounty the organization paid to being him to Buffalo.
"I just have to work," he said. "I have to come in and be focused and ready to start with the team. Got to be prepared and just get in here and be ready to work and learn. That's the biggest transition; I have to be willing to sacrifice, get the right rest, eat right, stay in that playbook, dissect the playbook and get started with EJ."
After a stellar freshman season at Clemson, Watkins regressed a bit as a sophomore in 2012 amid whispers that he got lazy. He said that was a byproduct of being young, and vows the playmaker the Bills saw on film in 2013 is what they will see day in and day out in Buffalo.
"The best thing that I can do is stay humble," said Watkins. "That's when it works; I don't like talking about my game and my accomplishments, that is what the media is for. All I love doing is playing football, dominating the defense and being a great citizen. That's what it is about. That's when you get more out of being a leader and being a figure that all the kids look up to."