Yesterday, we talked about the ten best draft picks that the Buffalo Bills have made over the past decade. In order to complete our "[descriptive adjective] of the decade" series here, we've got to knock off the worst picks, too. This list can also be known as "why the Bills have sucked for a decade," but we're also hoping that one last vent session over these missed picks will be therapeutic as the franchise turns a new leaf - and a new decade - next month.
On to the list. Hope you can stomach it.
10. Josh Reed, WR, LSU (2002, Round 2, No. 36 overall)
Tom Donahoe's first draft as GM of the Bills, in 2001, netted some really good players. , and all made our "best of" list yesterday, and the Bills even got quality years and production out of third-round pick . 2002, however, was an epic flop, and Reed, the Bills' second-round pick (fourth overall in that round), was part of the reason why.
Drafted well ahead of his talent level thanks to a huge bowl game as a senior, the converted running back had a solid rookie season playing betweenand on a very prolific Bills offense led by . Then Price was shipped out of town, Reed became the starter, and his career has been incredibly average since then. This was the first in a long line of high-round luxury picks made by Donahoe that did not pan out, and obviously eventually cost Donahoe his job.
9. Chris Ellis, DE, Virginia Tech (2008, Round 3, No. 72 overall)
It's tough to put a player in his second year on this list (and we'll do it again soon), but Ellis is the poster child of several "good idea, bad philosophy/wrong player" picks that the Bills have made this decade. Picked when the Bills had a need to boost their pass rush, Ellis has seen extremely minimal playing time and barely made the roster in his second season. Unlike former second-round picks Schobel, and , Ellis has not found any way to contribute to the team - and though it might still be too early to write him off, the Bills picked a project player with attitude issues in a season when they needed their high-round picks to produce.
8. Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State (2006, Round 1, No. 8 overall)
I suspect that most of you will want to see Whitner higher on this list, simply because the Bills passed on a dominant defensive lineman ( ) to get him. Philosophically, the pick makes at least some degree of sense; look at most of today's elite NFL teams, and you'll find an elite safety on the back end of the defense. Whitner, however, has failed to produce to the standards of a No. 8 overall pick thanks to his being shuffled from position-to-position and his own lack of elite playmaking ability. Whitner is a good player, which is why this pick doesn't rank much higher on the list. Philosophically, however, Buffalo erred here, and thus got the Dick Jauron era off to a not-so-hot start.
7. James Hardy, WR, Indiana (2008, Round 2, No. 41 overall)
Much like Ellis, I'm hesitant to put a second-year player on this list, particularly at the wide receiver position. I still very much believe that Hardy has what it takes to be a poor man's Plaxico Burress-type threat in this league, particularly in the red zone. He won't get the reps to do it any time soon, however.
This pick makes the list because philosophically, it was perhaps the worst team-building move the Bills made in the last half of the decade. Buffalo knew entering the '08 off-season that they needed a threat to complementand help develop young quarterback . They courted veteran free agents like , but that didn't pan out, so they went to the draft and came away with... a tall receiver in need of an incredible amount of polish. Everyone knows that the bigger a rookie receiver, the longer it'll take to develop them. (Unless their surname is Fitzgerald or Johnson.) Hardy couldn't nail down a starting job, Edwards went into a shell thanks to a lack of weapons that he'd never re-emerge from, and the rest is history. Buffalo fixed the situation a year too late with the signing.
6. Travares Tillman, S, Georgia Tech (2000, Round 2, No. 58 overall)
Tillman played in the NFL for quite a while. He made a nice living as a journeyman safety with some range and athletic ability, and he even picked off 3 passes with Miami in 2005. But you generally would like your second-round picks to spend more than two seasons with your team, which is exactly what Tillman did. He did not survive the regime change from Wade Phillips to Gregg Williams, and that's an indictment on the efforts of former GM John Butler in his last Bills draft class.
5. Roscoe Parrish, WR, Miami, FL (2005, Round 2, No. 55 overall)
Yikes. Without a first-round pick thanks to an epic draft-day blunder of a trade that we'll discuss a bit higher on this list, Donahoe, in his last draft as a Bills GM, chose the gadget player to rule all gadget players with Parrish as his top selection on the season. Parrish has had his moments with this team, and for a while, he was the NFL's best punt returner, setting career average records and putting the Bills in position to win a few games thanks to timely big returns. But Parrish was drafted to be much more than a punt returner; unfortunately, that's all the Bills have gotten.
4. John McCargo, DT, North Carolina State (2006, Round 1, No. 26 overall)
It'd be difficult for most teams to find a bigger first-round flop than McCargo in the past decade; unfortunately for the Bills, they have three bigger flops. Again, this was a case of the Bills taking a player far higher than his talent level indicated; the Bills desperately needed a starting defensive tackle that season, and the fact that they lucked into Kyle Williams four rounds later doesn't make this pick any less of a reach. Since this pick, McCargo has dealt with several small injuries, one major injury (a bulging disc in his back), been traded, had the trade negated, and toiled at the bottom of the Bills' depth chart. Not exactly what you'd like out of a first-round pick.
3. Erik Flowers, DE, Arizona State (2000, Round 1, No. 26 overall)
Butler's last draft featured Flowers as its centerpiece. Bruce Smith had left the team, and the Bills were searching for their next great pass rusher. Flowers didn't stick in Buffalo because Gregg Williams brought in a 4-3 defense that Flowers, a 3-4 pass rusher, did not fit into. But the four sacks that Flowers picked up in two seasons with Buffalo represent 80% of his career total of five, which he picked up in five NFL seasons.
2. J.P. Losman, QB, Tulane (2004, Round 1, No. 22 overall)
This, my friends, was Epic Fail No. 2. Drew Bledsoe had something left in the tank, and the Bills were pushing toward a playoff berth. They did, however, need a quarterback of the future, and then-head coach Mike Mularkey fell in love with the deep ball of a cocky kid from Tulane. Mularkey loved that deep ball so much that the Bills traded multiple picks to Dallas to move back into the first round to get their cocky kid quarterback. Two years later, Mularkey was gone, Losman had a flash-in-the-pan season under Dick Jauron, and then a Losman knee injury began the memorable Trent Edwards era. Now, Losman is attempting to get back into the NFL after leading the Las Vegas Locomotives to a UFL championship.
1. Mike Williams, OT, Texas (2002, Round 1, No. 4 overall)
It's tough to top Losman, but Williams found a way to do it. Williams is the poster child for terrible Bills drafting, and the centerpiece of the plethora of issues that got Donahoe fired. At the time, Williams was given the richest contract in franchise history, but to say that he never lived up to his potential would be a severe understatement. He spent four highly mediocre seasons as Buffalo's right tackle before lazy-ing himself out of the sport entirely; one of the very first actions Marv Levy took on this roster as GM was to cut Williams. Big Mike made a not-so-dramatic return to NFL football this season with Washington, and is now toiling in anonymity on one of the league's worst units that features another former Bill, .
Just click his name and take a gander at his picture to see just how far Williams' star has fallen.