Looking back at every player drafted before Bills' QB Josh Allen

The 2018 NFL Draft changed the landscape for the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers
Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

For nearly two decades, the Buffalo Bills could not get themselves a franchise quarterback. Even though they have had flashes with the many quarterbacks they had such as Kyle Orton and Tyrod Taylor, the fanbase for Buffalo suffered for what seemed like forever. It looked like they always had a solid run game and great defense but could never get the most out of the quarterback spot. That is up until 2018 when the Bills were set to draft their hopeful franchise quarterback. In a QB-heavy draft, the Bills were a team to monitor as they were looking to get their guy and they did just that by trading up for Josh Allen.

Bills fans are beyond lucky to have a quarterback like Allen who is more of an athlete than anything. He can throw the ball 70+ yards, make plays with his legs, and truck defenders. Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott were very lucky to land Buffalo’s next franchise quarterback and because of the continuity amongst the team, Allen has turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Looking back at the 2018 draft, there are plenty of teams who would have opted to take Allen if they knew he would become the player he is today. With Allen being the future of Buffalo, we take a look back at the six players that were drafted ahead of Allen.

#1: Baker Mayfield, QB - Cleveland Browns

The former Heisman trophy winner had a fantastic 2017 year at Oklahoma and former general manager John Dorsey opted to take Mayfield as the first overall pick. Mayfield had a lot more downs than ups in Cleveland, but he got the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years and even helped them win a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mayfield dealt with coaching changes year in and year out which led to inconsistent play. That was part of the reason why the Browns decided to trade for DeShaun Watson, which put the writing on the wall for Mayfield’s future in Cleveland. Mayfield would be traded to the Carolina Panthers, released the same year and joined the Los Angeles Rams to finish out the 2022 season. Since then, Mayfield has found stability with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he just signed a three-year extension.

#2: Saquon Barkley, RB - New York Giants

The Giants decided to take Barkley number two overall as arguably the best overall player in the draft. He was dynamite at Penn State and was projected to be an immediate game-changer for any franchise that drafted him. He had a fantastic start to his career where he made the Pro Bowl with over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns. Barkley would then face a bit of an injury bug in his career which included a torn ACL in 2020. Throughout his career with the Giants, Barkley was the main focus of the offense because no team feared Daniel Jones.

Two seasons ago, he looked like his old self with over 1,000 rushing yards but was then put behind a horrendous offensive line last season. With the Giants not committing to Barkley and giving Jones a big time contract, Barkley and the Giants could not agree on a new deal which led to the Philadelphia Eagles swooping in and signing Barkley this past offseason.

#3: Sam Darnold, QB - New York Jets

Being drafted to the Jets as a young quarterback has been a nightmare for many players. Sam Darnold is no exception to this list. Leading up to the draft, many people had thought that the Browns would select Darnold first overall. Coming out of USC, Darnold had all of the intangibles to be a successful starting quarterback. Much like Mayfield, Darnold did not have the best coaching around him, going from Todd Bowles to Adam Gase which was a nightmare for Darnold. Not to mention, he had no talent around him which made him heavily regress.

Once the new regime of Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh entered the picture in 2021, the Jets had the second overall pick in yet another heavy-QB draft. The Jets decided to move on from Darnold, trading him to the Carolina Panthers and eventually drafting Zach Wilson (who was just traded to Denver this offseason). Darnold has since been a backup in San Francisco and signed a one-year prove it deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

#4: Denzel Ward, CB - Cleveland Browns

The Browns had two top-five picks and decided to bring cornerback Denzel Ward back to Ohio from Ohio State. Ward has been a solid player for the Browns, earning three Pro Bowl invites and has logged 15 interceptions in his career. He plays a huge role in this Browns defense that has become an elite unit under Jim Schwartz. The only knock on Ward’s game is his health, as he has yet to play a full season. Other than that, the Browns got themselves a great shutdown corner for the future.

#5: Bradley Chubb, DE - Denver Broncos

The Broncos added Bradley Chubb to pair him with Hall-of-Famer Von Miller. He finished third in votes when it came to Defensive Rookie of the Year and is also a three-time Pro Bowler himself. Chubb has had bad luck himself when it comes to injuries, having played in four games in 2019 and seven in 2021. In 2022, the Broncos decided to send Chubb to the Miami Dolphins where he earned a massive five-year extension with the Dolphins. Then the nightmare continued for Chubb as he tore his ACL late in the 2023 season which could affect him once again this upcoming season.

#6: Quenton Nelson, OL - Indianapolis Colts

If there was one player in this draft that was a can’t miss prospect, it was Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson. The Colts were in a desperate need for protection for Andrew Luck who had been sacked more times than we can count. Taking an interior offensive lineman in the top ten is a little bit of a risk, but Nelson has been worth it for the Colts. Indianapolis has established one of the best offensive lines in the league and part of that reason is because of Nelson. Being a six time Pro-Bowler and three time First-Team All-Pro player, the Colts definitely hit with Nelson.

Looking at this list, Josh Allen is better than all of them. He provides the biggest impact and has helped turn the Bills around into a more respectable franchise. He is in the prime of his career, but is arguably surrounded with the least amount of talent since his rookie season. At the end of the day, the Bills will always be in the Super Bowl conversation as long as Allen is playing at a high level.