ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN/AP) — Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley is closing the NFL draft much like he began it, by making a series of trades to transform the team's roster.
The Bills opened Saturday by drafting Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell in the fourth round, and Baylor guard Cyril Richardson in the fifth. In between, Whaley acquired running back Bryce Brown in a trade with Philadelphia. And the Bills swapped draft picks with Tampa Bay, giving up the 149th pick, for a seventh-rounder this year and a fifth-rounder next year.
The moves followed a busy two days for Whaley, who took over after Buddy Nix stepped down last year.
The Bills began the draft by trading up five spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 pick. Buffalo then traded receiver Stevie Johnson to San Francisco on Friday.
Add it up, and the Bills have given up three draft picks, including a first-round selection next year, and Johnson. In exchange, they added four draft picks, plus Brown.
The wheeling and dealing actually began a month ago, when Buffalo gave up a sixth-round draft pick to acquire receiver Mike Williams in a trade with Tampa Bay.
It's an aggressive, "win-now" approach being taken to improve a team that hasn't had a winning finish since going 9-7 in 2004. And Buffalo has gone 14 seasons without a playoff berth, which is the NFL's longest active playoff drought.
The franchise is also in a period of transition following the death of owner and founder Ralph Wilson in March. The Bills are going to be put up for sale, with new owners potentially identified by the end of July.
The Bills used their two seventh-round selections at the NFL Draft on linebacker from Florida Atlantic, Randell Johnson, and Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson.
Johnson played in every game as a senior, recording 41 total tackles. He's 6'3" and weighs 242 pounds, and was named FAU's Iron Man of the Year in 2013.
A top recruit coming out of high school, Henderson was originally headed to USC. He reversed course and instead headed to Miami, following NCAA punishment of Southern Cal's football program. Henderson comes with some character issues, including multiple suspensions while playing for the Hurricanes, plus a reported positive drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. He does have the size the Bills have been trying to collect for the offensive line, standing 6'7" and weighing 331 pounds.
By acquiring Brown, the Bills filled a need for depth without having to address it in the draft. He'll serve in a backup role behind co-starters Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
Brown has 190 carries for 878 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons with the Eagles. He overcame fumbling issues during his rookie season to finish with 564 yards rushing and four touchdowns in 16 games, including four starts.
In Buffalo, Brown joins an offense that ranked second in yards rushing last season.
"Yeah, I was definitely surprised," Brown said. "But I think it's a great opportunity for me to come in and be able to contribute any way that I can. I'm excited about the journey. And I can't wait to get started."
Cockrell was selected with the 109th pick. At 6-feet and 190 pounds, he has the size the Bills covet in defensive backs and also the versatility to play various special teams roles.
He finished with 12 interceptions in starting all 49 games he played over four seasons. Cockrell also held his own against elite receivers. That was evident in a 52-48 loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31, when he limited Aggies star receiver Mike Evans to four catches for 72 yards.
"I think the word that comes out with Ross is he is always consistent," said Jim Monos, the Bills director of player personnel. "No matter if it's Mike Evans or Sammy (Watkins), he's played against all these guys and he is always consistent."
Cockrell showed leadership in serving as a team captain over the past two years. And Cockrell showed commitment to his education. He enrolled in a master's program in political science after earning his degree in December 2012.
Richardson, listed at 6-foot-4 and 343 pounds, was selected 153rd overall. He started 42 of 51 games in four seasons, and is coming off a senior season in which he became the first Baylor player to be name the Big 12's offensive lineman of the year.