For the first time since 2006 when they picked Ohio State safety Donte Whitner, the Buffalo Bills will be selecting in the top ten in this April's NFL selection meeting. Since 1987, the Bills have selected in the top ten just twice, selecting OT Mike Williams No. 4 overall in 2002 and Whitner No. 8 four years later.
Twice in their history the Bills have held the number nine pick since the first combined AFL/NFL draft in 1967. In 1968, the Bills took wide receiver Haven Moses, a two-time Pro Bowler who topped 8,000 career receiving yards on only 448 receptions. In 1998, the Bills traded the pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the Rob Johnson trade. The Jags used that pick to select RB Fred Taylor. Taylor is fifteenth on the all-time rushing list, while Johnson... didn't work out.
What kind of player can the Bills expect to pick at number nine - should they stay at that spot - and what can they expect to pay that player? Looking at the past 25 selections at nine overall may give us a good idea.
2009 - B.J. Raji, DT, Packers
2008 - Keith Rivers, LB, Bengals
2007 - Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Dolphins
2006 - Ernie Sims, LB, Lions
2005 - Carlos Rogers, DB, Redskins
2004 - Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars
2003 - Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings
2002 - John Henderson, DT, Jaguars
2001 - Koren Robinson, WR, Seahawks 1 PB
2000 - Brian Urlacher, LB, Bears
1999 - Chris Claiborne, LB, Lions
1998 - Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars 1 PB
1997 - Tom Knight, DB, Cardinals
1996 - Ricky Dudley, TE, Raiders
1995 - Kyle Brady, TE, Jets
1994 - Antonio Langham, DB, Browns
1993 - Lincoln Kennedy, OT, Falcons
1992 - Tommy Vardell, RB, Browns
1991- Stanley Richard, DB, Chargers
1990 - Richmond Webb, OT, Dolphins
1989 - Sammy Smith, RB, Dolphins
1988 - Terry McDaniel, DB, Raiders
1987 - Jerome Brown, DT, Eagles
1986 - John Reinstra, OG, Steelers
1985 - Kevin Allen, OT, Eagles
It's not the most accurate means of measuring a player's contributions, but one of the most quantifiable things we can look at are accolades. How many times have these players been selected to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams?
Kevin Williams is the most distinguished, having been named to five All-Pro teams followed closely by Urlacher's four. Richmond Webb and Jerome Brown were twice named to the squad, and Lincoln Kennedy made it once. Still, that's only four All-Pros in a list of 25 players. The eleventh overall pick has had five All-Pros over the same period.
The Pro Bowlers are slightly more numerous, since there are most spots on that squad. Webb leads this list with seven appearances, followed by Urlacher's six, Terry McDaniels' five, and Lincoln Kennedy's three. Jerome Brown and John Henderson each made two appearances, and Koren Robinson and Fred Taylor have one each.
Three number nine overall picks are enshrined in the Hall of Fame; OT Bruce Matthews (1983), WR Lenny Moore (1956), and HB Hugh McElhenney (1952).
The contracts for rookie are not expected to change much this year. Despite the lack of a salary cap, the league is still doling out rookie caps, the maximum amount of money a team can spend on rookies. The last four contracts signed by ninth overall picks are as follows:
B.J. Raji: 5 years, $22.9M, $17.7M guaranteed
Keith Rivers: 5 years, $20.1M, $15.6M guaranteed
Ted Ginn, Jr.: 5 years, $19.6M, 14M guaranteed
Ernie Sims: 5-year, $15.735M, $12.1M guaranteed.
The yearly salaries went up by an average of about 14%. If that holds true, and there's not reason to suspect it won't, the Bills will pay any non-QB they draft at No. 9 $5.22M a year. A five year, $26.1M contract is about what you would expect.
If the Bills select a quarterback, however, that drastically skews the data. For instance, 2008 No. 3 overall pick Matt Ryan signed a six-year, $66 million contract with $34.75 million guaranteed. The previous year, Joe Thomas' contract was for a meager (in comparison) five-year, $42.5 million contract with $23 million guaranteed. For Ryan's $11M a season average, that represents a 29% increase over Thomas' $8.5M yearly total. Taking the QB skew data into account, the Bills would potentially pay their shiny new quarterback $36M over 6 years, a yearly average of $5.9M.