Buffalo Bills: 15 best first-round draft picks of all-time
By John Buhler
The Buffalo Bills have certainly had some outstanding first-round draft selections over the years. Here are their 15 greatest first-round picks to date.
After not making the AFC playoffs for the first 16 years of the 21st century, the Buffalo Bills did the unthinkable and qualified for them as the No. 6 seed in 2017. Many thought Buffalo was in a tremendous rebuilding period entering last fall.
However, new head coach Sean McDermott and new general manager Brandon Beane brought the cornerstone of a winning culture from Charlotte and injected it into a feisty 2017 Bills team.
Buffalo may have only managed three points in the road defeat against the No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Wild Card Round. That being said, Buffalo has the organizational structure in place to approach the K-Gun glory years of Jim Kelly, Marv Levy and Bill Polian.
Obviously, the Bills have a way to go, as 2018 might be a year of slight regression. We still don’t know who will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 now that former Pro Bowler Tyrod Taylor plays for the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
Last year saw the Bills trade back with the Kansas City Chiefs and still managed to pick up one of the best young cornerbacks in the league in Tre’Davious White out of LSU. White, along with Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints, certainly turned heads in NFL secondaries during their rookie campaigns in 2017. Interestingly, former Bills general manager Doug Whaley would be fired the day after the 2017 NFL Draft.
With Beane, McDermott and The Pegula Family fully aligned, we could see the Bills do great things in the upcoming NFL Drafts. They have the No. 12 and No. 22 picks in 2018. Buffalo stands a great chance to trade up draft hopefully the heir apparent to Kelly in Orchard Park.
With the 2018 NFL Draft days away, let’s take a look back on the 15 greatest first-round picks in Bills franchise history. No doubt there are some good ones.
Honorable Mentions: Dave Behrman, C, Michigan State (1963, No. 4), Greg Bell, RB, Notre Dame (1984, No. 26), Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina (2012, No. 10), J.D. Hill, WR, Arizona State (1971, No. 4), Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal (2007, No. 12), Haven Moses, WR, San Diego State (1968, No. 9), Ken Rice, OT, Auburn (1961, No. 3)
While he’s on the wrong side of 30 and still bouncing around the league past his prime, the Buffalo Bills made a fantastic selection in the 2010 NFL Draft by taking Clemson Tigers running back C.J. Spiller No. 9 overall. Spiller would have his best NFL seasons playing in front of Bills Mafia.
From 2010 to 2014, Spiller rushed for 3,321 yards on 668 carries for 12 touchdowns. As a receiver, Spiller had 158 catches for 1,195 yards and six receiving touchdowns in Bills uniform. His best year came in 2012 when Spiller made his lone trip to the Pro Bowl. He had 207 carries for 1,244 yards for six touchdowns, as well as 43 catches for 459 yards and two touchdowns.
During his entire Bills tenure, Spiller split carries with another talented tailback in Fred Jackson. Spiller’s Bills career briefly overlapped with current Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch would lose his starting role to Jackson and then be traded to the Seattle Seahawks for two draft picks.
Spiller may not be the dynamic, one-of-a-kind personality of “Beast Mode”, but he was able to appropriately replace him in the Bills backfield. One would have hoped that Spiller’s prime would have lasted longer in Western New York. However, with a heavy, four-year workload in college at Clemson, that may not have been entirely in the cards.