July 22, 1976: Bills Complete Two Big Trades

J.D. Hill on February 4 2011 in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Super Bowl Gospel Celebration 2011)

The Buffalo Bills made two great trades on this date in 1976. 35 years ago, the team began their day by trading wide receiver J.D. Hill to the Detroit Lions for their first-round draft choice in 1977. They capped the day by sending their own first-rounder in '77 to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for defensive end Sherman White.

Hill was Buffalo's first-round pick in 1971 and established himself as a solid receiver. His sophomore season was his best, when he grabbed 52 receptions for 754 yards and five touchdowns en route to his only Pro Bowl appearance. While his touchdown numbers stayed consistent, his receptions and yards took a sharp nosedive, and in his last season in Buffalo he had 36 catches but managed 667 yards and 7 touchdowns. Still, with O.J. Simpson running the ball, Hill was expendable, and Buffalo got great value.

Unfortunately for Hill, he was injured early in his Lions career and caught only one reception for two yards in 1976. He managed to play 11 games in 1977 but lost his speed, averaging only 10.3 yards per reception; he finished with 24 catches and 247 yards and a touchdown.

White was also a first-round pick, having gone second overall to the Bengals in 1972. He was a steady player for the Bengals (ProFootballReference.com compares his seasons to Phil Hansen's), but never lived up to his draft status. While with the Bills, White was again steady, playing in 106 games (starting 98) for Buffalo in eight seasons.

The Bills' old pick became the third overall selection for the Bengals in 1977, where they picked defensive end Eddie Edwards. Edwards set Bengals records for sacks and was an All-Pro in 1981.

The pick Buffalo obtained was No. 12 overall from the Lions. The Bills also picked a defensive lineman, adding DT Phil Dokes. Dokes played in 12 games in 1977 and started ten games in 1978, but I can't find anything about him since other than his death in 1989. Perhaps an injury ended his career, but I can't corroborate it anywhere.

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