The last time the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs was in 1999. The last time they won the AFC East was in 1995. Though quite some time has passed since Buffalo has made the playoffs, this is a good time to compare and contrast the 1995 Bills to the 2012 squad.
First-year Bill Bryce Paup made an immediate impact for the '95 Bills. In fact, the defensive end had 17.5 sacks in his first season in Buffalo, a ridiculous number. Paup was named the 1995 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for his production and was an instant stud. In 2012, the Bills added some guy named Mario Williams to make an impact from the defensive end position. Maybe Williams can have the first-year impact that Paup did and lead Buffalo back to January football.
In 1995, the Bills selected Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown with the 14th pick of the NFL draft. That is a pretty high investment for an offensive lineman, but Brown proved to be worth the pick. In 2012, the Bills also drafted a guard pretty high, taking Cordy Glenn with the 41st pick of the NFL draft. Glenn was a second-round selection but could have snuck into the end on the first round if a team needed the position.
The 1995 NFL draft saw the Bills select linebacker Damien Covington out of North Carolina State in the third round. In the 2012 NFL draft, the Bills selected wide receiver T.J. Graham out of North Carolina State, also in the third round.
Though Covington's Bills tenure was ruined by a knee injury and he was tragically shot and killed at age 29, he was expected to do good things for the Bills out of North Carolina State. Graham also has moderate expectations coming out of the school. It's a wild coincidence that the Bills selected a player in the same round from the same school in 1995. That was the last year Buffalo won the AFC East. And this year the Bills plan on making a run.
Do the Bills have a realistic shot at the AFC East Crown in 2012?
The Bills drafted a player out of Western Michigan in the seventh round of the 1995 draft. Yep, you guessed it. In the 2012 NFL draft, the Bills drafted a Western Michigan man in the seventh round. Is it really coincidental that the Bills' drafts in 1995 and 2012 are similar, or is it a sign?
The last time the Bills won a playoff game was in 1995. In 2012, the Bills are making a push to just get into the playoffs. With Williams, Mark Anderson, Stephon Gilmore, Glenn and Vince Young added to the roster, the Bills are certainly better than they were in 2011.
So the Bills don't have a Jim Kelly at quarterback. But Ryan Fitzpatrick is showing signs that he can be the team's quarterback. The Bills don't have a Thurman Thomas. But they have two great backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. No Andre Reed? Stevie Johnson is the only player in Bills history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. This shows 2012 Bills really aren't exactly inferior to the 1995 Bills by any means.
Buddy Nix wants to build through the draft? The 2012 draft was very comparable to the last time the Bills won the AFC East, their 10th and most recent divisional title. The comparisons can go on, but it won't mean a thing unless the Bills win on the field. Maybe the Bills have similar results to the '95 team. Maybe not. But things are too similar to bypass if history repeats itself for the Bills in 2012.