It was interesting that the first place Doug Whaley went when asked about his proudest achievements as general manager of the Buffalo Bills was the selection of cornerback Ronald Darby in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Whaley always made it clear that he took exception to criticism about the choice – long before Monday, when he broke his media silence since being fired on April 30 – and his defensiveness was hardly a surprise.
Start with the fact Darby was the Bills' top overall pick in '15, because of Whaley's reckless decision to give up their first-rounder that year to move up for Sammy Watkins in 2014.
Then there were the questions about Darby's character raised in connection with rape charges that his former Florida State teammate, Jameis Winston, faced in 2012. An investigation into the incident had Darby listed as a witness. In an affidavit, he wrote that he saw Winston and Erica Kinsman, Winston's accuser, having sex, although Darby termed it consensual and walked away. A civil lawsuit presented a different version, with Kinsman alleging Darby – upon walking into the room where Winston and Kinsman were having sex – said, "Dude, she is telling you to stop," and left after Winston allegedly carried Kinsman into another room.
After that came Darby's severe struggles in pass coverage during the preseason of his rookie year. Darby would recover nicely and perform well enough to establish himself as one of the top first-year defensive players in the league.
Thereafter, Whaley enjoyed any opportunity he had to deliver in-your-face, I-told-you-so responses to the critics.
And he stayed true to form Monday when, during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, he said, "I think one of the guys that we really take a lot of pride in was Ronald Darby. It was after we obviously traded up and then lost the first-round pick for the Sammy Watkins trade. Sammy is poised to make a big jump. But to find a talent in Ronald Darby in the second round, when we didn't have a first-round pick, and I think he ended up being No. 2 in the defensive-rookie-of-the-year voting, that was really impressive."
However, showing typical short-sightedness, Whaley conveniently forgot that Darby didn't perform nearly as well last season as he did as a rookie.
He conveniently forgot that Darby was drafted to fit Rex Ryan's scheme that asks corners to primarily play man-to-man coverage and that Darby is going to find himself in a different role in the zone-oriented defense of new coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier – a role that just might not suit him as well.
Whaley also conveniently forgot that those pre-draft, off-the-field concerns about Darby just might not make him the best fit in McDermott's program, where character matters far more than it once did at One Bills Drive.
As proudest achievements go, this one has more than a little potential to be a reach.