The Buffalo Bills are known as the team that always managed to “choke”. Time and time again, fans are disappointed with the pathetic management and lack of discipline on the team. This article shows some of the Bills biggest mistakes, which cost them years of potential success.
It is important for readers to understand that teams do not necessarily have a first round pick every season. This means, that various years are not included in this article. Notably, like many other NFL teams, Buffalo scouts missed out on some great talent in drafts. In other cases, Bills fans were hoping that they would select one player, but management makes a risky decision and chooses someone else. Having watched a significant amount of Bills games in my life, I can tell you this; they are poorly coached every year. The Bills often lack discipline. With the right coaching and players, Buffalo could be a respected franchise, like many other organizations. As of right now, they are one of the joke teams of the NFL, a team that does not have a shot at doing anything special. While Rex Ryan is no longer the head coach in Buffalo, fans will have to hope the team can finally buckle down and focus on football. If the organization could get a playoff berth, it would mean a lot to fans.
Note: The Bills did not have a first round pick in 2015 or 2005.
15. 2002: Ed Reed
Original Pick: Mike Williams
Ed Reed is regarded as one of the greatest defensive players to ever play in the NFL. The nine time pro bowler was selected way lower than Williams. The offensive takle was taken at 4th overall by the Bills and Reed at 24th. Clearly, Mike Williams was an absolute bust. He played 59 NFL games in the span of six years and was overhyped from Texas. Ed Reed, on the other hand, was a value pick at 24. His NFL stats are unbelievable and he is now, ironically, an assistant DB coach with the Bills. Buffalo should have picked Reed in this draft, but now I guess they finally figured out that the guy is a football genius. Mike Williams would play his final game with the Redskins, retiring in 2010 as a complete NFL bust.
14. 2003: Larry Johnson
Original Pick: Willis McGahee
Willis was a pretty solid and respected pro player. He was taken 23rd overall from Miami, while Larry Johnson was the 27th overall pick. Willis was not a bust, but I think Larry Johnson could have had more success in Buffalo. Larry’s best season was in 2005, in which he rushed for 20 touchdowns and 1,750 yards. These whopping statistics make him one of the most explosive running backs the league has ever seen. While he would struggle with legal problems, Larry holds three records that solidify him as an NFL legend. He holds the NFL record for the most rushing attempts in a season, 414, and the Chiefs record for the most rushing yards in a season. Additionally, he holds the Chiefs organization record for the most career rushing attempts. Not only was he a threat in the lane, but once he got in open space, Larry was gone.
13. 2004: Vince Wilfork
Original Pick: Lee Evans
While Wilfork has struggled with some weight issues, he has ultimately earned himself respect as an elite defensive tackle. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls and helped the Patriots capture two Super Bowls. Lee Evans was actually a pretty solid receiver, but Wilfork’s presence in Buffalo would have been amazing for the organization. Wilfork was the 21st overall selection by the Patriots while Lee was was taken 13th by the Bills. Evans did not get selected to one pro bowl or receive any honors as an NFL player.
Wilfork would have been a great pick for Buffalo because he is a machine. The Patriots favored his presence for so many years because of his sheer size. Because of his strength, Vince is treasured at his position. He is now expected to retire this offseason, and he’ll likely be a hall of famer.
12. 2004: Jared Allen
Original Pick: J.P. Losman
I remember watching Losman; he was not at all what Buffalo fans hoped for. The QB was an interception machine, and not only that, he struggled in the pocket. Jared Allen, on the other hand, is a possible hall of fame inductee. He holds various NFL records and recorded a stunning 136 sacks in his career. While his career was successful wherever he went, Vikings fans have a special place in their heart for Allen. In arguably his best season in 2011 with Minnesota, Allen had 48 total tackles, 22 sacks, and 4 fumble recoveries. Panthers fans will miss him surely, as he has retired, but Bills fans are still bitter they never got a piece of his talent.
Unfortunately, picking Losman was a mistake that will haunt the minds of Western New Yorkers for life. Losman is another example of a QB who the Bills somehow thought would be an excellent addition to their team. I wouldn’t say that is how this situation panned out.
11. 2006: Nick Mangold
Original Pick: John McCargo
John McCargo played six seasons in the NFL. He was picked 26th overall by Buffalo while Mangold was the 29th selection. McCargo was a bust while Mangold would go on to be an exceptional player. His resume speaks for itself; He has been to seven Pro Bowls, been selected to two first team All Pros, and is a four-time All Focus All Pro. He has not missed a game as of yet, as he has started in all of his 164 career outings. The Jets absolutely cherished his presence in New York, and he is arguably the most productive center they have ever had. The Jets finally released Mangold this offseason.
Mangold’s legacy is something that is exponentially more than McCargo’s. John McCargo spent a lot of his career injured and out of shape. He was known to be overweight and not ready for the rigors of the NFL.
10. 2006: Haloti Ngata
Original Pick: Donte Whitner
Ngata was the 12th overall pick while Whitner was the 8th pick; little did the Bills know that they were making a very big mistake. Whitner never made the Pro Bowl as a Bill, but did as a 49er. Evidentially, he was not the right fit in Buffalo. Ngata has been an exceptional defensive tackle. He is a five time Pro Bowler and a two time All Pro. Ravens fans regard him as one of the key elements of their Super Bowl in 2012. He has played as a nose tackle and ended up on the Lions in 2015. Ultimately, Buffalo would have prospered if they got Haloti. Whitner was an okay strong safety with the Bills but he was inconsistent. Bills fans were very up and down upon their opinions on him as well.
The Bills could have had an insane defense had they capitalized on Ngata and other top notch college athletes. Sadly, the organization has time and time again picked the wrong guy, or rather failed to properly develop the their young players.
9. 2007: Darrelle Revis
Original Pick: Marshawn Lynch
While “Beastmode” had an insane career, Revis could have been a better selection for Buffalo. The team had Fred Jackson, and while he isn’t necessarily a great back, he was sufficient. If Revis was on the Bills, the team would have had a formidable secondary. I am not sure that Revis would have stayed in Buffalo for an eternity but he could have revamped the Bills.
Lynch retired from football this past season as a legend, but there is talk of him returning. Certainly, Marshawn is a legendary running back. In this case, I feel Buffalo already had a good running game going for them and did not need to take Lynch. Also, Marshawn was way better in Seattle which speaks to the fact that he may not have loved playing with the Bills. Regardless, Revis used to be ridiculously good against the pass.
8. 2008: Aqib Talib
Original Pick: Leodis McKelvin
Oh man, can you imagine getting two DBs like Revis and Aqib Talib in back to back years? Talib slipped to the 20th pick in 2008, landing with the Buccaneers, while the Bills opted to go with Leodis McKelvin at no.11. Despite some off the field issues early in his career, Talib has settled in as a formidable corner and has played a huge role in Denver fielding a dominant defense over the last few years.
While McKelvin wasn’t a terrible player for Buffalo, his resume just doesn’t quite measure up to Talib’s, who would have been a huge boost for Buffalo. Talib has made the Pro Bowl the past four seasons and even earned a first-team All-Pro nod in 2016. His best may still be ahead of him.
7. 2009: LeSean McCoy
Original Pick: Aaron Maybin
While LeSean is actually on the Bills in 2017, he could have been a member of the organization a lot earlier. In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Bills took Aaron Maybin at 11th overall. Unfortunately, Aaron would only play a year of football in Buffalo, before he struggled elsewhere. He last played in 2013 with the Toronto Argonauts – proving he was not nearly good enough to be an NFL player.
McCoy was taken 53rd overall in this draft. He was missed by nearly every team, but Philadelphia certainly saw good in him. In his third season, LeSean rushed for 1,309 yards and had 17 rushing touchdowns. While this was happening, Maybin was struggling on the Jets roster. McCoy went to the Bills in 2015 and has played well with them. Buffalo fans and the organization cannot help but wonder; why didn’t we take him instead of that linebacker guy?
6. 2010: Dez Bryant
Original Pick: C.J. Spiller
Dez has made himself known as an extremely competitive player. C.J. Spiller had a couple of good years, but as of now, he is just a backup. Dez, however, has remained a consistent wideout threat in the NFL. Now paired with Dak Prescott, Cowboys fans feel like his career has been revamped.
In 2013, Dez had 93 receptions and 13 touchdowns. A season later, he would have 16 touchdowns and 88 receptions. Along with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant has been a threat to NFL defenses. Now without his former beloved QB, Dez still is a weapon. He may be getting less receptions but he is still targeted in the passing game immensely. This past season, he had 8 touchdowns and averaged, his career best, 15.9 yards per reception. On the other hand, C.J. Spiller was only successful for a very short period of time.
5. 2011: Patrick Peterson
Original Pick: Marcell Dareus
Oh gosh, this draft mistake must really get to Buffalo fans. Not only did they mess up by taking Dareus, who hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2014, but they missed out on so much talent. The Bills took Dareus at no.3 over A.J. Green, Julio Jones, J.J. Watt, and Robert Quinn. Picking which athlete to put at this heading was very difficult, but I figured Peterson has been an exceptional player worthy of recognition.
Patrick Peterson established himself as an insanely athletic player early on, running back kick returns often. He holds two NFL records and three Cardinals organization records. While he has struggled with injuries, Peterson is always an aggressive player on the field. Also, the Cardinals players really look up to him. He is known for his unbelievable NFL record of having four punt return touchdowns in a single season – along with Devin Hester. In 2011, he recorded a 99 yard punt return – the longest in NFL history.
4. 2012: Harrison Smith
Original Pick: Stephen Gilmore
Though Gilmore has developed into a solid professional player, Harrison Smith has been sensational in recent years. Gilmore was the 10th overall pick while Smith fell to the 29th pick. I will admit, Stephen Gilmore had a good year in 2016, considering he got selected to his first Pro Bowl. I still would have easily taken Harrison Smith ahead of him though.
Harrison has been in the Pro Bowl for the past two seasons. In Minnesota, he has established himself as a deadly defender. This past season, he recorded 91 tackles and 22 assisted tackles. Though he did not record an interception this season, something usual of him, he was a true leader. The Vikings experienced trials and tribulations, and through it all, the veteran was known to be a locker room leader. With Buffalo, Harrison Smith would have made the team substantially more competitive and unique. Plus, Gilmore left the Bills – while Smith remains with the team that drafted him. Team loyalty much?
3. 2013: Le’Veon Bell
Original Pick: E.J. Manuel
E.J. Manuel was the 16th overall pick. Clearly, he has been a horrible bust. Not only was he unproductive in Buffalo, but the Raiders have now brought him on to be a backup for Carr. Not only were Bills fans extremely disappointed from Manuel’s 2013 performance but the organization clearly understood they made a costly blunder. The Bills took a QB in a draft that was just about the worst year to pick a QB. Bell has proven himself time and time again with the Steelers. He may have had some drug issues in the past but this is merely an afterthought at this point.
He has broken several NFL and Steelers organization records as well as revolutionized how many running backs will approach the position. He is very good at navigating through a defense and truly takes his time to react to a play. Sorry Buffalo, but you choked once more.
2. 2014: Odell Beckham, Jr.
Original Pick: Sammy Watkins
The Bills made it very clear that they wanted Watkins over Beckham in the draft in 2014. Originally, people genuinely thought Buffalo would go after Odell. Sammy Watkins is a very athletic receiver, but he is not as productive as Beckham. People make the argument that the Giants receiver has a lot of help, and therefore does better, but Sammy is a very injury prone player. Sammy Watkins is not a bust: he is far from it. But, the Bills would have been a lot smarter to take Odell – the guy who is now regarded as a top five receiver in all of football. Unfortunately, this is another mistake that Bills fans secretly cry about each night or just whine about. Yet another costly mistake.
1. 2016: Dak Prescott
Original Pick: Shaq Lawson
Dak Prescott had a killer first season in the NFL. The Bills took Lawson at 19th overall, when in fact, Dak was a a late fourth round pick. Clearly, every team in the NFL totally slept on Prescott. He won ROY and the league now expects big things from the quarterback.
Shaq Lawson had 13 tackles this past season. I am sure Buffalo fans are, like nearly every team, angry about their team not knowing about Dak. The Cowboys, in typical fashion, capitalized on the young prospect. They may not have known that he would be this good, but hey, they look pretty damn smart right now. Obviously, Jerry Jones did not know Tony Romo would get a horrible injury – but either way – they got Dak. If Buffalo got Dak, he may not have been as good as he was with Dallas, but he would have given them a lot of future opportunities. Bummer.
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