Buffalo Rumblings was founded on April 7, 2007, just a few weeks before the start of the 2007 NFL Draft. Though we're only just over four years old, we have now covered five separate Buffalo Bills drafts since our inception. I was recently asked to review the first two of those classes, 2007 and 2008, in a post here.
Considering just five of the 17 players the Bills drafted in those two years are still with the team, I figured it was a reasonable enough request - not just because enough time has passed to actually make judgments on those players, but because it wouldn't be an especially time-consuming endeavor.
Let that stat - that less than 30 percent of the players picked in two recent draft classes are still in Buffalo - serve as the first indicator of how well the team fared. Which five players are still around? Glad you asked.
2-34, 2007: Paul Posluszny, ILB, Penn State. The lone survivor from the seven-man draft class of 2007 (and himself a free agent), Posluszny is something of a polarizing figure amongst Bills fans. Some call him overrated, others call him underrated. He's struggled some with injury (19 games missed in four years) and is not the type of impact linebacker some Bills fans expected him to be. However, he's a heady player that has been very productive (397 tackles, three sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles in his career). Those are in short supply on this team. He may not be a star, but he's a starting-level player in virtually any system, and that's not a bad thing to have. Indications have been strong for months that the Bills want to bring Posluszny back.
1-11, 2008: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. Just four of 10 players from the 2008 class remain in Buffalo, and it's sad that I feel happy that the team's first-round pick is one of them. It didn't help that he missed most of his second season due to injury, but McKelvin has not developed into the top-tier cornerback most expected him to be - and there's never been any question that he's physically capable of doing so. Some have questioned his focus. I can't comment on that, but on the field, McKelvin can be great, but he's far more likely to give up big plays and look lost. If the light ever stays on with this guy, he could be outstanding - he's flashed that ability. It's fair to not expect that to happen entering the fourth year.
4-114, 2008: Reggie Corner, CB, Akron. Corner was not even invited to the Combine coming out of Akron, and though we didn't poll readers back then, I'd imagine that he was one of the least popular Bills draft picks in this blog's lifetime. Serving mostly in a nickel and dime capacity in his first three years, Corner has been a valuable reserve and has made some big plays here and there. He's a known commodity - a hard worker that functions well as a deep reserve and specialist, but who can be exploited when he's on the field.
7-219, 2008: Demetrius Bell, OT, Northwestern State. It's been a rough ride for Bell, who has endured his struggles after being handed the starting left tackle job way too soon in just his second season - after he was inactive every week as a rookie. He hadn't played football until college, and wasn't ready to play NFL football by any stretch. Still, there he was, starting a season opener. The fact that he has emerged, over a year and a half of game experience, into a possibly-long-term left tackle is, to me, pretty remarkable - especially given his injury situation. I like this guy.
7-224, 2008: Stevie Johnson, WR, Kentucky. Johnson flashed ability as a little-used rookie, scoring two touchdowns and catching 10 passes. The team signed Terrell Owens, however, and Johnson saw his opportunities completely vanish in 2009. Almost immediately after he got another opportunity, he seized a starting job - and then he blossomed into the team's most marketable and productive player. He finished 2010 with 82 receptions, 1,073 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He's got a chance to be a real star.