We continue building our Buffalo Bills 4-3 defense of the decade by examining the outside linebacker position. We'll choose two OLBs so pick your favorite from the list and we'll vote a second time for the next linebacker.
After being drafted in the 1999 NFL Draft Keith Newman started 42 games over three seasons in Buffalo at the start of the decade. Virtually all his stats are first or second among Bills OLBs in the decade. He had 14.5 sacks, ten passes defended, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 129 tackles. The defense ranked third in total yards allowed in 2000.
The Bills saw a need at OLB and were a team on the rise. The Cincinnati Bengals were a team mired in mediocrity. So the Bills went out and signed the high profile Spikes from the Bengals prior to the 2003 season. In his first two seasons in Buffalo he made two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team. He started 46 games in Buffalo before being traded after two injury-plagued seasons. He recorded seven sacks, seven interceptions, two interception returns for touchdowns, defended 29 passes, forced seven fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and made 188 tackles. In 2003 and 2004, the Bills were the second-best defense in the league in yards allowed.
Posey signed a three-year deal as a free agent in 2003. He started all but two games in those three years, accumulating 9.5 sacks, an interception, five passes defended, forcing five fumbles, recovering two fumbles, and making 116 tackles. In two of Posey's three seasons in Buffalo, the team ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed.
Crowell started 41 games in his time in Buffalo. Drafted in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Crowell first stepped into the starting lineup in place of the injured Spikes to start 13 games in 2005. His 223 tackles are by far the most of any Bills linebacker in the decade. Add to that his seven sacks, five interceptions, 17 passes defended, four forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, and a safety.
Ellison doesn't get a lot of respect around these parts, but I appreciate him for what he is. He's a dependable, athletic safety turned linebacker that epitomizes the Bills over the last ten years - close but no cigar. Ellison has started 38 games for Buffalo since being drafted in the sixth round in 2006 from Oregon State, where he played safety. In his time in Buffalo he's racked up two sacks, two interceptions, 11 passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and 143 tackles. Many of those tackles came on special teams where Ellison has spent much of his career.
The Best of the Rest
Jay Foreman started 19 games in 2000-2001 after being drafted one round behind Newman. Eddie Robinson started 15 games in 2002, replacing Foreman. Kawika Mitchell started 20 games in 2008-2009 before a leg injury sidelined him for the rest of the decade.
Leave your voting rationale in the comments section.