With just a little over a month until the 2010 National Football League Draft it is time to reflect back on the best pick from each draft over the last fifty years.
1959 (1960 draft was held in 1929) - First Round - Richie Lucas - Penn State - QB
1961 - Al Bemiller - Seventh Round - Syracuse - C
Bemiler became the cornerstone of an offensive line that went on to win two consecutive AFL Championships.
1962 - Tom Sestak - Seventeenth Round - McNeese State - DE
Drafted as a tight End, Sestak quickly took to the defensive end position, anchoring a defense that help opposing teams for seventeen consecutive games without a touchdown. A record that still stands today.
1963 - Daryle Lamonica - Twenty-fourth Round - Notre Dame - QB
While he never unseated Jack Kemp as the starting quarterback, Lamonica quickly established himself as the "Fireman" filling in when Kemp was ineffective and pulling out victories.
1964 - Pete Gogolak - Twelfth Round - Cornell - K
1965 - Marty Schottenheimer - Seventh Round - Pittsburgh - LB
Helped the Buffalo Bills win the 1965 Championship. Also 2 time AFL all star
1966 - Bobby Burnett - Fourth Round - Arkansas - RB
All star in his rookie season, finished 4th in the league in rushing.
1967 - John Pitts - First Round - Arizona State - S
Drafted as a wide receiver but converted to safety in training camp. Pitts played with the Bills until 1973.
1968 - Haven Moses - First Round - San Diego State - WR
Exciting receiver gave the Bills a deep threat.
1969 - O.J. Simpson - First Round - USC - RB
Rookie of the year, went on to become one of the all time great running-backs in league history. Only player to surpass 2,000 yards in a 14 game season.
1970 - Al Cowlings - First Round - USC - DE
Solid defensive end but better remembered for being O.J.'s driver.
1971 - Jim Braxton - Fourth Round - West Virgina - RB
Powerful fullback, better known for busting holes for Simpson.
1972 - Reggie McKenzie - Second Round - Michigan - G
One of the best guards to ever play the game. Underrated for his run blocking. an anchor on the famed Electric Company line.
1973 - Joe Delamiellure - Second Round - Michigan State - G
The other key player on the Electric Company line. Member of the Pro Football of Fame.
1974 - Rueben Gant - First Round - Oklahoma State - TE
Great hands and excellent blocker.
1975 - Roland Hooks - Tenth Round - North Carolina State - RB
Hooks never took hold of the starting job at running back but once scored 4 touchdowns in a single half against Cincinnati.
1976 - Mario Clark - First Round - Oregon - CB
Ball-hawk Clark had 25 interceptions before his 27th birthday.
1977 - Phil Dokes - First Round - Oklahoma - DE
Played only 2 seasons in the NFL. Very poor draft for the Bills this year.
1978 - Will Grant - Tenth Round - Kentucky - G
Solid guard, excellent run blocker
1979 - Jeff Nixon - Fourth Round - Richmond -DB
3 interceptions and one fumble recovery against Miami to help the Bills break a 20 game losing streak against the Dolphins.
1980 - Jim Richter - First Round - North Carolina State - C
Excellent center. Solid in all situations.
1981 - Rob Riddick - Ninth Round - Millersville - RB
Mostly known for his leaps over the goal-line, Riddick was used mostly in scoring situations
1982 - Gary Anderson - Seventh Round - Syracuse - K
Sadly Anderson never played a regular season game for the bills. He was cut in training camp and went on to become one of the greatest kickers of all time.
1983 - Jim Kelly - First Round - Miami - QB
Hall of Fame, 4 consecutive Super Bowls. Greatest Quarterback in Bills history. Leader of one of the greatest offenses in league history.
1984 - Greg Bell - First Round - Notre Dame - RB
Great running-back with break away speed. Traded in 1987 for Cornelius Bennet.
1985 - Bruce Smith - First Round - Virginia Tech - DE
Hall of Fame DE. All time sack leader, in the words of Dennis Hopper "Bad Things Man"
1986 - Will Worford - First Round - Vanderbilt - T
Member of a strong offensive line that anchored the Bills for ten seasons.
1987 - Shane Conlan - First Round - Penn State - LB
Rookie of the year, played with the Bills for 3 of their super bowls
1988 - Thurman Thomas - Second Round - Oklahoma State - RB
Greatest all purpose running back ever to play the game. Thomas could run, catch and block against the best of them. Led the league in all purpose yards 4 seasons in a row. League MVP and Hall of Fame career.
1989 - Don Beebe - First Round - Chadron State - WR
Speedy receiver, once chased down Leon Lett in the Super Bowl preventing a touchdown off a fumble recovery.
1990 - Glenn Parker - Third Round - Arizona - T
Helped pave the way for Thurman Thomas and Kenny Davis.
1991 - Phil Hansen - Second Round - North Dakota State - DE
Wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks opposite Bruce Smith.
1992 - Matt Darby - Fifth Round - UCLA - DB
Darby fit perfectly inside the tandem of Hansen and Smith. Excellent run stopper.
1993 - Thomas Smith - First Round - North Carolina - CB
Smith was thew lock down corner-back the Bills needed. Only six career interceptions but Smith rarely was neat by an opponents receiver.
1994 - Jeff Burris - First Round - Notre Dame - CB
19 career interceptions. Burris was the perfect fit to play opposite Smith. Giving the Bills one of the most feared secondaries of their time.
1995 - Marlon Kerner - Third Round - Ohio State - CB
Did well filling in for Burris and Smith. Many would pick Ruben Brown here but in my opinion he was over rated.
1996 - Eric Moulds - First Round - Mississippi State - WR
Moulds was a deep threat. Finished his career just short of 10,000 yards.
1997 - Marcellus Wiley - Second Round - Columbia - DE
Played most of his career in Bruce Smith's shadow but performed well when Bruce was injured.
1998 - Sam Cowart - Second Round - Florida State - LB
Cowart when healthy was one of the best linebackers in the league. Too many injuries forced the Bills to part ways with him.
1999 - Antoine Winfield - First Round - Ohio State - DB
Winfield was a dominant defensive back during his time with the Bills. Started to play soft during his contract year forcing the Bills to let him go.
2000 - Sammy Morris - Fifth Round - Texas Tech - RB
Morris was a good backup that never got much playing time in Buffalo. Very weak draft in 2000 for the Bills.
2001 - Nate Clements - First Round - Ohio State - DB
Clements paired with Winfield gave the Bills a dangerous secondary but like Winfield he got soft come contract time and was lost to free agency.
2002 - Josh Reed - Second Round - Louisiana State - WR
Reed had some good seasons in Buffalo but could never break the starting lineup for long. Another very weak draft for the Bills.
2003 - Chris Kelsay - Second Round -Nebraska - DE
Kelsay is a consistent defensive end. Would be even better if the Bills would not change defensive coordinators every other year.
2004 - Lee Evans - First Round - Wisconsin - WR
Evans is one of the top receivers in the league. His numbers do not always reflect that due to the lack of a good quarterback in Buffalo.
2005 - Kevin Everett - Third round - Miami - TE
Everett was just coming into his own when he suffered a life threatening injury against Denver. Another very weak draft for the Bills.
2006 - Donte Whitner - First Round - Ohio State - DB
Another Ohio State corner that has gotten soft. But Whitner played hard his first couple of years in the NFL.
2007 - Paul Posluszny - Second Round - Penn State - LB
Posluszny has emerged into a true leader on defense. Injuries have hurt him but he plays hard every down.
2008 - Reggie Corner - Fourth Round - Akron - DB
Corner came into his own in 2009 and has shown he can play well in the NFL. McKelvin and Hardy were taken before him but injuries have delayed their development.
2009 - Jarius Byrd - Second Round - Oregon - S
Byrd lead all rookies in interceptions and finished second in the league. Great season considering he did not start until week 4 and missed the last 3 games due to injury.
2010 - Remains to be seen.
The years have not always been kind to Bills fans and the future remains cloudy. Hopefully their is that surprise pick somewhere in the draft.
Honorable mention would have to go to the 1985 draft - 4th round pick Andre Reed becamse one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game.
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