#4: Mario Williams
It’s very rare that first overall selections hit the open market in the prime of their career, but for the Buffalo Bills, they lucked out after Mario Williams chose Buffalo to be his next home.
During his time at North Carolina State, there were very few defensive records Mario Williams didn’t break. After his time at NC State had wrapped up and Williams was called to the podium first in the 2006 NFL Draft, Williams held a laundry list of accolades. Including but not limited to: NC State’s single-season tackles for loss record with 27.5 in 2005, NC State’s single-season sacks record with 14.5 in 2005, NC State’s career tackles for loss record with 55.5, NC State’s single-game record for sacks with four and is currently tied for the school’s single-season sack record with 25.5.
Williams went from racking up sacks against collegiate quarterbacks to NFL quarterbacks at a consistent rate in a matter of months as he finished his first season with 4.5 sacks as a Texan. The following two seasons saw an astronomical leap in his sack productivity, recording 26 in 36 games along with over 100 combined tackles, earning him his of many first Pro Bowl nods in 2008.
Williams’ time in Houston came to an end in 2012 after the Texans and he joined the Buffalo Bills in free agency on a six-year, $100 million contract.
In his first season in Buffalo, moving from the sunny skies of Houston, Texas to the windy, intimidating cold of Buffalo, Williams did not skip a beat. He recorded numbers close to his 2008 Pro Bowl season with 10.5 sacks and 46 combined tackles under then head coach, Chan Gailey.
From that season forward, Williams’ numbers would continue to improve, recording 13.5 sacks in 2013, earning him another Pro Bowl nod and 14.5 in 2014 earning him yet another Pro Bowl nod and his first All-Pro nod. His presence along the Bills’ defensive line with Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes terrorized opponents. Dubbed “The Cold Front” the Bills front-four ripped apart offense’s pass game and dismantled the run game better than any previous front four.
Just as all good things come to an end, Williams’ time in Buffalo did too. Concluding the 2015 season, the Bills elected to release Mario Williams and he moved down south to Miami to join the divisional rival Dolphins on a two-year contract, but was cut after his first.
Many people look back fondly on Williams’ time in Buffalo, he also has his fair share of critics but no one can knock the effort and passion he gave out on the field while wearing the red, blue and white.