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The Buffalo Bills, the 2015 NFL Draft, and life without a Round 1 pick

Life without a Buffalo Bills first-round pick isn't so bad this year - for one fan, at least.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend, a commercial came on the television promoting the 2015 NFL Draft. Sitting there next to my wife, she turned and said, "Wow, the draft is soon. How come you haven't been talking about it too much?" As she asked that question, I realized that she was right, and explained how the lack of a first-round pick can take a bit of the fun out of the draft. But in my opinion there is actually a lot more to the lack of draft buzz this year than just the absence of a first-round pick.

No more waiting for Superman

No, this isn't related to the trailer for a new movie, but the fact that I am not looking for a savior in this year's draft. When your team has struggled for a long time, the draft has always provided that ray of hope for a savior of the franchise. So much weight would be placed in that first-round pick as someone that could bring the Buffalo Bills back to prominence, and as a fan I would obsess about who the team could or should select. In 2006, I was convinced that Matt Leinart was our Superman. In 2010, it was Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow.

But while the quarterback position is still unsettled, there is a different kind of confidence that I have heading into this year's draft. Obviously, I would have liked for the Bills to have made the playoffs last year, but I have a hard time complaining about a 9-7 season. There was no real sense of gloom heading into this offseason, but instead a sense of hope that the Bills were actually a team on the rise. There is no need for expectations that a first-round selection would save the team, because the good teams don't need saving. Fans of Super Bowl contenders don't have to obsess about the draft. Maybe this is that first chance in a long time that I have had to feel that way.

The "Rex Effect"

With the addition of Rex Ryan, and his coaching staff, the Bills have become a feature story in NFL headlines. The new-found love that the Bills are receiving from the national media has made it easy for me to enjoy the attention that the team is receiving. March and April used to be reserved for snarky blurbs on who the Bills should select in the draft, but those have been replaced with cover stories in Sports Illustrated, live coverage from ESPN, and playoff predictions from national pundits. There are obviously a lot of things that have taken place to garner this attention, but none has been more important to me than having Ryan named as head coach this January.

Buffalo's mightiest heroes

At the risk of making another superhero movie reference, everyone gets excited when a good team-up takes place. This offseason has already seen the Bills bring together talented additions in LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay, and Jerome Felton. Adding them to an offense that already features Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Fred Jackson, and Bryce Brown has me excited to see what the new offense will look like under Greg Roman.

With most of the headlines around the new pieces on offense, the Bills return 10 starters from last year's defense. Based on a history of letting talented players leave via free agency, I was pleasantly surprised when Jerry Hughes re-signed prior to the start of free agency. Keeping Hughes with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, and Mario Williams was a big sign that the new ownership is committed to keeping the team's most talented free agents.

The defense also features four promising young starters in Stephon Gilmore, Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, and Aaron Williams. As this group continues to improve, it is exciting to see how much better the Bills' defense can be under Ryan in 2015.

Oh, yeah: Watkins

One of the hottest debates of the last year has been around the Bills' decision to trade two first-round picks for Sammy Watkins. Some fans still hold a grudge against Doug Whaley for including the 2015 first-round pick, while others are happy to have the incredibly talented receiver regardless of the price tag. I personally side with the latter of the two.

If the Bills did not make last year's trade, they were expected to draft tight end Eric Ebron. While it is too early to judge how good Watkins and Ebron can be in the NFL, I will gladly take Watkins over Ebron and this year's No. 19 pick. Maybe I would feel differently if this draft had more talent at quarterback, but it does not. In his rookie season, Watkins showed that he can be a difference-maker for the Bills, and I am excited to see what he can do in year two and beyond.

In conclusion, am more than okay with the fact that the Bills do not have a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. This offseason has already been filled with key additions, and I am confident that Whaley can add value to the roster with the team's second- and third-round selections. While my time spent reviewing mock drafts has diminished, my confidence in the future of the franchise is at an all-time high.