Last dozen offensive players the Buffalo Bills have selected in the first round
With attention turning to the 2018 NFL combine and draft with the Super Bowl in the history books, the Buffalo Bills are inching closer and closer to the 2018 regular season.
In 2017, Buffalo’s defense carried the load. There are a number of needs on offense that can be addressed early and often in the NFL Draft as the Bills select 21st and 22nd overall. So how have the Bills fared when picking an offensive player in the first round?
With that, here are the last dozen offensive players drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Bills:
2014 NFL draft, WR Sammy Watkins, 4th overall
The Bills traded up from the ninth-overall pick in 2014 to take the wide out. Watkins’ career started with a bang, 65 catches for 982 receiving yards. His second season saw 60 grabs for 1,047 yards.
From there, injuries took over and the Bills new helm, led by head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane, traded Watkins on Aug. 11 for cornerback EJ Gaines and a second-round pick.
2013 NFL draft, QB EJ Manuel, 16th overall
Before trading up, Buffalo traded down and grabbed Manuel in the 2013 draft, one of the most lackluster quarterback draft classes in recent memory. The plan was to let Manuel grow, but injury pushed him into action in his rookie year. From there, Manuel regressed and Buffalo let him walk during free agency following the 2016 season.
2010 NFL draft, RB CJ Spiller, 9th overall
Spiller’s career in Buffalo was marked by injury and splitting time in the backfield with area legend Fred Jackson. Spiller had one 1,000-plus yard rushing season with the Bills, his third season in 2012 (1,244 — 6.0 avg).
2009 NFL draft, C Eric Wood, 28th overall
After being selected the with the second of two first-round picks in 2009 (No. 11 — DE Aaron Maybin), Wood started his career at right guard before jumping back to his original position at center. Wood recently retired due to a career-ending neck injury. Between his drafting and retirement, Wood spent his time becoming a staple on Buffalo’s offensive line and in the western New York community.
2007 NFL draft, RB Marshawn Lynch, 12th overall
Beast Mode got into a little trouble in Buffalo off the field and in terms of his career nationally, it’s almost forgotten that he started his career in Buffalo. Lynch eventually was shipped out via trade when the Bills had Spiller, Jackson and Lynch. His spoof video at Applebee’s was an all-timer.
2004 NFL draft, WR Lee Evans, 13th overall
Evans never became a franchise talent at the position such as Andre Reed, but Evans became a steady fixture and fan-favorite. Evans became the team’s top- receiver in 2006 and had a big year with 82 catches for 1,292 yards. He had a second 1000-plus receiving yard season in 2008 (63 – 1,017).
2004 NFL draft, QB JP Losman, 22nd overall
Not everything about the 2004 draft was good.
Losman was the first quarterback taken by the Bills with a first-round pick since Jim Kelly and their respective careers couldn’t be more opposite. Losman had an early-career training camp injury and sat behind Drew Bledsoe for a season before beginning a below-average career as a starter.
2003 NFL draft, RB Willis McGahee, 23rd overall
A surprise first-round pick due to a gruesome knee injury in college, McGahee had a few productive seasons with the Bills, rushing for nearly 1,000-yards in his three playing season with Buffalo (1,128, 1,247, 990). On his way out, he wasn’t exactly a fan of the area.
2002 NFL draft, OT Mike Williams, 4th overall
A perennial bust. Buffalo took Williams very early in the 2002 draft to address the most important position on the offensive line, left tackle, and he was eventually unseated by an undrafted player in Jason Peters, who in his own right, is probably a Hall of Famer.
1997 NFL draft, RB Antowain Smith, 23rd overall
Smith’s first two seasons were pretty productive, rushing for 840 yards with a 4.3 yards-per-carry average his rookie year, then he surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau his sophomore year (1,124). Smith eventually fell out of favor after his first two years and moved onto New England where joined the Pats for the start of its Tom Brady-led dynasty.
1996 NFL draft, WR Eric Moulds, 24th overall
After spending time as a depth wide out early in his career, Moulds had a breakout season in 1998 with 1,368 receiving yards. Moulds complied 10 total seasons in Buffalo and is second on the team’s all-time receiving list with 9,096 yards, only behind Reed’s 13,095.
1995, OG Ruben Brown, 14th overall
Not always a fan-favorite during his time on the team, Brown is generally reflected upon as an all-time great offensive lineman for the Bills. He made eight-straight Pro Bowls with the team (9 in career).