What do the Buffalo Bills and the tight end position have in common? Absolutely nothing.
It's safe to say that the last great tight end the Bills were able to boast about went by the name of Jay Riemersma.
A seventh-round pick in the 1996 draft, he quickly became a favorite target of Doug Flutie due to his excellent hands and toughness.
He played six seasons with the Bills and finished his last two with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Overall, his numbers were pretty impressive.
Riemersma ended his career with 221 receptions, 2,524 yards and 23 touchdowns, 20 of them coming with the Bills. Considering that all of Buffalo's tight ends over the past six years have combined for 20 touchdowns, it is easy to see how integral Jay's role truly was.
Now, fast forward to 2009. In a desperate attempt to acquire the "Golden Child" at the tight end position, the Bills keep their fingers crossed that Brandon Pettigrew is available to them at the 28th spot in the first round of this year's draft.
As fate never seems to be on the side of the four-time Super Bowl losers, the Detroit Lions snatch him up right before their very eyes. On to Plan B.
Enter Shawn Nelson, a 6' 5", 240-pounder from Southern Miss. Somehow, the receiving tight end fell all the way to the fourth round, where the Bills wasted no time in grabbing him.
In the four years of his college career (52 games total), Nelson amassed 157 receptions, 2,054 yards and 16 touchdowns, putting him in a respectable fourth place at Southern Miss. To many, he is considered to be the true steal of the 2009 draft.
Whether Nelson lives up to all the hype surrounding him remains to be seen. However, with a revamped offensive line that includes two highly-touted rookies from this year's draft and a few position changes, the newly acquired tight end may just be the re-invention of Jay Riemersma.
Having the likes of T.O., Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch as receiving threats can't hurt. In fact, they can only help Nelson's case.
Already, in just four short years of college, he put up similar numbers to that of Riemersma and in less time. If he can transfer those stats over to pro football, his force will be nothing short of formidable.
Hopefully, in 2009, we as fans get to see the re-invention of Jay Riemersma.