Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix, who at the moment is easily the most popular Buffalo sports figure that doesn't suit up and play the games, is generally viewed as a man that has done a good job drafting for the Bills over the last two-plus years.
Though his first draft class from 2010 is on the verge of being "on the outs" with the fan base, by and large Nix's reputation as a strong drafter stems from his three well-regarded first-round (read: Top 10) picks: running back C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
That got us thinking: how do Bills fans compare what Nix has done at the top of the draft to the various successes and failures of his two predecessors? Let's discuss after the jump.
Tom Donahoe, a man widely reviled by the Bills fan base, ran the team from 2001-2005. In that time, he made five first-round picks, sacrificing what would be his final first-rounder in 2005 to trade back into the first round in 2004.
|2001||1||21||Nate Clements||CB||Ohio State|
|2003||1||23||Willis McGahee||RB||Miami (FL)|
We know what Donahoe got in Williams and Losman: two monumentally disappointing players that are now out of the league. Those picks undoubtedly set the franchise back.
But it's also worth noting that Clements has been a starting cornerback for more than a decade now, and made a Pro Bowl while with Buffalo. McGahee, another unpopular (to put it lightly) figure in Buffalo, nonetheless has proven himself a productive and durable NFL running back, and well worth the risk Donahoe took in making him a first-round pick coming off of injury. McGahee also has a Pro Bowl to his name, albeit with Baltimore. Evans has not made the Pro Bowl and was unceremoniously traded by Nix a year ago, but ranks fourth in team history in receptions and third in both yards and touchdowns.
When Donahoe was fired, the team elected to replace him with Hall of Fame member Marv Levy, who of course was the team's head coach during their Super Bowl years. Levy retained Tom Modrak as his scouting chief and hired Dick Jauron as his head coach, and when Levy stepped aside as GM after just two years, Modrak and Jauron by and large ran the entire football operation. Their picks:
|2006||1||8||Donte Whitner||SS||Ohio State|
|2006||1||26||John McCargo||DT||North Carolina State|
|2009||1||11||Aaron Maybin||DE||Penn State|
Though all of these players were drafted relatively recently, only two - McKelvin and Wood - remain with the organization.
The most notable of the group is Lynch, who has a Pro Bowl nod to his belt, but who seemingly can't escape off-field issues that have plagued him in both Buffalo and now Seattle. Whitner was highly unremarkable in Buffalo before leaving for San Francisco as a free agent, while McCargo is now out of the league. Maybin was cut a year ago, but may be on the verge of a legitimate career resuscitation with Rex Ryan in New York.
Wood has been a full-time starter from the get go - first at right guard, and now at center for the last year-plus - but two bad leg injuries have caused him to miss roughly a third of his first three seasons. McKelvin showed some promise early in his career and has a lot of experience, but ended the 2011 season buried on the depth chart and isn't even a lock to make the team this year.
Finally, we have the three aforementioned first-round picks made by Nix:
|2012||1||10||Stephon Gilmore||CB||South Carolina|
With this group, we don't have the benefit of a large body of work. Spiller struggled to assimilate to the pro game for about a year and a half, but really came on as the featured tailback in the latter portions of the 2011 season, and now looks to be the team's long-term future back while cutting into starter Fred Jackson's workload. Dareus showed glimpses of dominance and registered a team-high 5.5 sacks as a rookie, and though he also struggled with bouts of inconsistency, he's expected to grow out of that. Gilmore, the highly athletic rookie expected to start, has yet to partake in a padded NFL practice, much less play a live down.
Still, on the last Saturday before the 2012 season officially begins with the start of training camp, let's rank these three groups of first-round picks anyway. Which regime had the best group of high picks? Which was the worst? Let's hear it in the comments section.