Reflecting on the Lee Evans Era in Buffalo - Does He Count as Another Bills First-Round Bust?

So as you know, yesterday the Bills sent wide receiver Lee Evans to Baltimore for a future fourth-round draft pick. And thus ends the tenure of yet another recent first-round draft pick in Buffalo.

We all know the Bills have struggled just a bit in the draft in the past decade, especially in the early rounds. First-round pick after first-round pick has been a disaster, dramatically damaging any chance the Bills have had of getting back to the playoffs.

But now that Evans is done in Buffalo, does he count as one of these first-round failures? Just to be clear, there’s no way Evans was a “bust” anywhere near the level of Mike Williams or Erik Flowers or John McCargo or whatever. But it’s fair to examine if Evans was a poor first-round choice or not.

Points Against Evans:

 – In seven seasons as a Bill, Evans only topped 1,000 yards receiving twice.

– Evans averaged just over six touchdowns a season, never reaching double-digit touchdowns.

– In the past two seasons combined, Evans had only 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns.

– Evans had the #1 WR spot taken from him in Buffalo by former seventh-round pick Stevie Johnson.

– Evans had some big games, but often completely disappeared.

– Evans never made a Pro Bowl.

– The Bills appeared in exactly zero playoff games during Evans’s tenure in Buffalo.

Points for Evans:

– Let’s be real…Evans endured a terrible quarterback situation for pretty much his entire time in Buffalo. Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, J.P. Losman – it’s gonna be tough to put up big stats with that group throwing to you.

– Evans did have some big years, with his best season coming in 2006 (1,292 yards, 8 TD).

– Evans never missed a game due to injury until last season.

– Evans was Buffalo’s only legitimate deep threat for most of his time in Buffalo, and was subject to constant double teams.

– The Bills were pretty freaking poorly coached while he was in Buffalo. You’d think a semi-competent offensive coordinator could figure out a few more ways to get Evans the ball.

The Verdict:

To me, Evans is always going to be one of those “What if?” cases. What if Evans had been drafted by a better team? What if the Bills had somehow acquired a decent quarterback? How good could have Evans been?

I’m going to say the Evans era wasn’t bad, but it was a bit disappointing. He is a good player, but not a star. And you need to draft some stars in the first round.

The sad thing? Evans might be Buffalo’s best first round pick since 2002. Here’s the list:

2002 Mike Williams Texas Tackle
2003 Willis McGahee Miami (FL) Running Back
2004 Lee Evans Wisconsin Wide Receiver
2004 J.P. Losman Tulane Quarterback
2005 No 1st Round Pick, Roscoe Parrish (2nd Round) Miami (FL) Wide Receiver
2006 Donte Whitner Ohio State Safety
2006 John McCargo North Carolina State Defensive Tackle
2007 Marshawn Lynch California Running Back
2008 Leodis McKelvin Troy Defensive Back
2009 Aaron Maybin Penn State Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
2009 Eric Wood Louisville Center
2010 C.J. Spiller Clemson Running Back
2011 Marcell Dareus Alabama Defensive Tackle

Obviously, the jury is still out on Spiller and Dareus. And Eric Wood is a very good player. Other than that? What a freaking mess.

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