Buffalo Bills Draft History: A Look at The Top 15 Picks Of All Time
As Buffalo Bills fans grumble about the Erik Flowers, Mike Williams and J.P. Losman first-round selections over the last decade, they often forget about the good old days.
With the 2011 NFL Draft just over two months away, it seems right to take a look back at the top 15 draft picks the Bills have ever made.
Some may agree with my rankings, some may not. But feel free to comment on who I missed, or who is too high or low!
No. 15: WR Eric Moulds
The Buffalo Bills selected wide receiver Eric Moulds out of Mississippi State with the 24th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft.
He was a downfield weapon, and played at his best with fellow wideouts Lee Evans and Andre Reed.
In his 10 seasons as a Bill, he caught 675 passes for 9,096 yards, scoring 48 touchdowns, while earning three Pro Bowl selections.
No. 14: DE Phil Hansen
Defensive end Phil Hansen was a relentless, blue-collar defensive end that had a knack for breaking up plays, and getting to the quarterback.
Drafted as the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft out of North Dakota State, Hansen was a disruptive force on the Bills' defensive line for 11 years.
He made the 1991 All-Rookie Team, and finished his career in Buffalo with 61.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and 496 tackles.
No. 13: LB Jim Haslett
Today, when most people think of Jim Haslett, they think of a football coach. However, he was also a solid inside linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.
Drafted 51st overall in the second round of the 1979 NFL Draft, Haslett was awarded the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and finished his career with 4.5 sacks and six interceptions.
Tackles weren't an officially recorded stat at the time, but he was a force on defense for years.
No. 12: LG Ruben Brown
Ruben Brown was one of the best guards in Buffalo Bills history, and was one of the main reasons for all of the 1,000+ yard rushers over the span of his career.
Drafted 14th overall in the 1995 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Brown went to nine Pro Bowls, eight of them consecutively, and was a six time first team All-Pro.
No. 11: WR Jerry Butler
Jerry Butler was one of the great Bills wide receivers in a time where the running game dominated the league.
Drafted fifth overall in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft out of Clemson, Butler went on to earn the Rookie of the Year award.
In his nine years with the Bills, Butler caught 278 passes for 4,301 yards, scoring 29 touchdowns, while being selected to a Pro Bowl.
No. 10: RB Joe Cribbs
Joe Cribbs, the uncle of Cleveland Browns utility man, Josh Cribbs, is just one of the many great running backs in Buffalo Bills history.
Drafted 54th overall in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Auburn, Cribbs played five seasons for the Bills, earning the Rookie of the Year award, and being selected to three Pro Bowls.
In those five seasons, Cribbs rushed 1,082 times for 4,445 yards, scoring 21 touchdowns, adding another 180 receptions for 1,783 yards and 15 scores.
No. 9: NT Fred Smerlas
Fred Smerlas was a mean and nasty nose tackle for 11 years with the Buffalo Bills. Standing 6'3" and just 277 pounds, he doesn't exactly fit the mold of today's prototypical nose tackle, but he was a beast in his day.
Drafted in the second round of the 1979 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Smerlas racked up 528 tackles (unofficial), 18.5 sacks, and two interceptions, while being selected to five Pro Bowls.
No. 8: WR Andre Reed
Had to put this picture of a Miami Dolphin getting smoked by Andre Reed! Anyways, Reed, who is a finalist for the 2011 Hall Of Fame Class, definitely has the credentials to make the cut.
The Bills got a steal, selecting Reed with the 86th overall pick in the fourth round of the 1985 NFL Draft out of Kutztown University (PA).
In his 15 years with the Bills, he was named to seven Pro Bowls, catching 941 passes for 13,095 yards, scoring 86 touchdowns, and was the favorite target of quarterback Jim Kelly in the K-Gun offense.
No. 7: RG Joe DeLamielleure
Joe DeLamielleure was one of the best guards not only in Buffalo Bills history, but in the entire National Football League. Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2003, DeLamielleure was selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft out of Michigan State University.
He was a key blocker on the "Electric Company" that turned on the Juice, for those who remember the golden days.
In addition to his Hall of Fame enshrinement, DeLamielleure was named to the 1970's All-Decade Team, selected to six Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro three times.
No. 6: LB Darryl Talley
The heart and soul of the Buffalo Bills defense behind Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley was an energetic and emotional player on and off the field.
The Bills selected Talley with the 39th overall pick in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft out of West Virginia.
He went on to play 12 seasons for the Bills, racking up 1,190 tackles, 38.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, and forced 17 fumbles, while being named to two Pro Bowls.
He was the leader in votes of the Van Heusen Fan's Choice for the Hall of Fame this year.
No. 5: G Billy Shaw
In 1961, Billy Shaw was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, then in the AFL, as well as the Dallas Cowboys from the NFL.
Coming out of Georgia Tech, he played both offense and defensive, but chose to play for Buffalo because Dallas had envisioned him as a linebacker.
Shaw was a key man on a Bills offense that led the league in rushing touchdowns in 1962, 1963, and 1964, while winning AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965.
No. 4 RB: O.J. Simpson
Orenthal James Simpson was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the first overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft out of Southern California.
Nicknamed "Juice," Simpson was an unbelievable runner, and was the only player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14-game season, when he did so in 1973.
In his nine years as a Buffalo Bill, Simpson rushed 2,123 times for 10,183 yards, scoring 61 touchdowns, adding 203 receptions for 2,142 yards and another 14 touchdowns.
What makes his stats even more impressive is the fact that the Bills had absolutely no passing attack at the time, and Simpson was still unstoppable.
No. 3: RB Thurman Thomas
After slipping to the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft, the Bills picked the former Oklahoma State standout with the 40th overall pick, and Thurman Thomas came out with a vengeance.
Thurman was a member of the famous K-Gun offense, and in his 12 seasons, he rushed 2,849 times for 11,938 yards, scoring 65 touchdowns, adding 456 catches for 4,341 yards and another 22 touchdowns.
Thomas was a five time Pro Bowler, five time All-Pro, the 1991 AP NFL Most Valuable Player, the 1992 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, while being named to the 1990's All-Decade team, and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
No. 2: DE Bruce Smith
Defensive end Bruce Smith will go down in history as one of the best defensive linemen to ever step foot on a football field.
Drafted with the first overall pick of the 1985 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech, Bruce wreaked havoc on every offensive linemen that dared to lineup in front of him.
In his 15 seasons as a Buffalo Bill, Bruce was named to both the 1980's and 1990's All-Decade Team. He was a nine time first team All-Pro, and won the Defensive Player of the Year award twice, while being selected to 11 Pro Bowls.
As a member of the Bills, he racked up 171 sacks, 1,078 tackles, forced 43 fumbles and intercepted two passes. He finished his career with 200 sacks, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Bruce currently holds the record as the only player to have 200 career sacks.
No. 1 QB Jim Kelly
The best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl, Jim Kelly led the Bills to four straight AFC Championships in his 11 years as a Buffalo Bill.
Drafted with the 14th overall pick of the 1983 NFL Draft, Kelly opted to play in the USFL for the Houston Gamblers, where he posted gaudy stats of 9,842 passing yards and 83 touchdowns in two seasons, before finally joining the Bills.
In his 11 years as a Bill, he was the leader of the potent K-Gun, no-huddle offense, posting a record of 101 wins and 59 losses, while passing for 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns, completing 60.1% of his passes and posting a career quarterback rating of 84.4.
Kelly was named to four Pro Bowls, and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2002.