The 2013 NFL Draft has been completed graded and debated. Now that rookie camps have begun it’s time for the hopeful fans to believe that their NFL franchise decision makers have made the right choice. Unfortunately for most fans, the wait to see if the new players will help their teams reach the ultimate goal, Super Bowl, usually takes a few years.
A few months prior to the draft there are multiple publications and "experts" that will tell us what player should go to which team. No one knows what player will contribute the way they did in college to their new NFL team, but that’s what makes the draft so much fun. We never know if the player picked will be the franchise savior, but we (fans) want to believe.
With that being said, it is time to look at the top 5 first round picks/busts that have been made by the Buffalo Bills over the last 15 years. The reason the Bills were chosen is simple, no playoff appearances since 1999 and one winning season, 2004 9-7, the rest of this time has been spent in the losers circle.
5. Mike Williams OT University of Texas.
Coming out of college "Big" Mike was rated as one of the top left tackles entering the 2002 NFL Draft. The Bills drafted him 4th overall. Williams was asked to play right tackle where, unfortunately, he failed miserably. Following a few games, he was then moved to left tackle. Again, he was unable to produce as expected. He was soon replaced by undrafted free agent Jason Peters, who coincidentally went on to become a Pro Bowler at this position. In 2006 the Bills released him and the Jacksonville Jaguars picked him up but again he struggled and was unable to make the roster and was released. Following two years out of the NFL, Williams signed with the Washington Redskins in 2009. Amazingly when Williams was moved to guard he was successful enough to be offered a two year contract from head coach Mike Shanahan. Unfortunately Williams was diagnosed with blood clots near his heart and missed the entire 2010 season. Due to the uncertainty of Williams’ health he was released in 2011. Its clear Greg Williams, Buffalo’s head coach during this draft, is a great evaluator of defensive talent, with what he has done over the years with the Tennessee Titans and the New Orleans Saints, but for Williams to have Pierson Prioleau as his starting free safety and not see a need for an upgrade is a mystery. In this draft there were two words: Ed Reed.
4. John McCargo DT North Carolina State
Seen as a stretch at the 26th overall pick in the 2006 draft, John McCargo was listed as a 2nd-3rd round draft pick by the "experts". But as the Bills had done in years past, they overrated a player. McCargo missed the entire 2006 season when he was placed on the IR and became a backup following his return. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2008 but was returned the next day following a failed physical. McCargo was finally cut loose from the Bills in 2010 and over the next two seasons bounced from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Chicago Bears. His total career stats are 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 1 Forced fumble. Prior to the draft the Bills traded WR Eric Moulds to the Houston Texans for a fifth round draft pick. The Bills front office made a better pick with the fifth rounder, grabbing Pro Bowler DT Kyle Williams out of LSU than they did with the first rounder. Seeing that the Bills had just gotten rid of Moulds, it would have made sense for the Bills to go after a WR in the first round. Greg Jennings was available and he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and has averaged 934 yards receiving and 7 TD’s per season. His production would have been higher if not for the groin injury he suffered in 2012.
3. Aaron Maybin DE/LB Penn State
In the 2009 Draft the Bills were trying to improve their defense. So with the 11th pick they chose Aaron Maybin out of Penn State. Unfortunately for Maybin, the NFL turned out to be a lot tougher than the Big Ten. Maybin finished his rookie campaign with a disappointing 18 tackles despite playing in all 16 games that season. In 2010 he had fallen into head coach Dick Jauron’s doghouse. Maybin saw the field in ’10 a total of 66 plays. In August of 2011, Maybin was waived by the Bills and signed by the New York Jets. In his first year with the Jets, Maybin produced 6 sacks, with two of them coming against the Bills in November. But that would be the best he could do. Since then he has been released by the Jets and recently he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Bills truly wanted to make a difference for their defense that year, it should have been an easy pick with either Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews, both big impact playing linebackers. They could have used some help on offense, specifically wide receiver. Knowing they had aging Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, the Bills could have targeted Percy Harvin coming out of Florida. Yes, there would have been extra baggage with Harvin, but the Bills took a huge chance putting Owens on their roster.
2. JP Losman QB Tulane
For Bills fans….enough said. The Bills had not selected a quarterback in the first round since 1983 when they selected Jim Kelly. Well, it’s safe to say, JP Losman is no Jim Kelly. The Bills traded to get back into the first round to take Losman at the 22nd pick in the 2004 draft. It’s pretty simple with Losman and the reason he failed. He replaced Drew Bledsoe and at that time the Bills where running a pocket passer style offense. Losman was a Brett Favre/Doug Flutie gunslinger-running style wannabe. The problem was the Bills never truly utilized his athletic ability. Losman had a strong arm and great legs, but he was not smart when it came to reading defenses. He was more inclined to forcing the ball downfield to his favorite target, Lee Evans, then try and check down and take what the defense gave him. Losman was on the Bills roster from 2004-2008. The Bills tried to replace him numerous times with other QB’s like Kelly Holcomb and Trent Edwards. That was like putting a band-aide over an open wound. Since being released from the Bills Losman has played in the United Football League, come back to the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and the Miami Dolphins. Currently he has finished his NFL career with 33 TD’s and 34 INT’s and 6,271 yards passing. Now if the Bills wanted to upgrade themselves at QB, there was a choice that would have left a positive impact on the franchise for years to come if they would have selected Matt Schaub who was available at the time of them selecting Losman.
1. Willis McGahee RB Miami
This one may ruffle some feathers. But in 2003, the Buffalo Bills did not need a running back, especially one that had just had his knee destroyed in a bowl game a few months prior to the draft, which McGahee had done in the Fiesta Bowl versus the Ohio State Buckeyes. His knee injury was so severe, it caused his MCL, PCL and ACL to tear. McGahee missed the entire 2003 season due to rehab following surgery. Prior to drafting McGahee the Bills had ended the 2002 season on a high note. They had just finished the season with running back Travis Henry rushing for 1,438 yards and 13 TD’s. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe finished the year with 4,359 yards passing and 24 TD’s. Dynamic duo receiver corps of Eric Moulds and Peerless Price both went over 1,200 yards receiving and Moulds finished with 10 TD’s and Price with 9. Following the 2002 season the Bills traded Price to the Falcons and for some reason, Bledsoe’s production dropped dramatically in 2003. He finished the year with 2,860 yards and this caused Moulds production to suffer as well. Moulds finished the season with 780 yards receiving and one touchdown. But the one consistent weapon was Henry who ran for 1,356 yards and 10 TD’s. Again, the Bills did not need a running back. They needed to address the wide receiver position, which they could have done with Pro Bowler/Super Bowl winner Anquan Boldin out of Florida State. It’s not that McGahee is not a good running back, but the Bills should not have wasted a first round pick on a player that did not improve the position he played. In no season since coming into the NFL has McGahee rushed for more yards in a single season than Henry did in ’02 or ’03.
There is always the chance that your team picks the hidden gem or the unforeseen dud. It’s all a guessing game in most cases and unfortunately for some teams, it’s been duds more than gems. The Draft is an intense time of the year for true fans, but for all of us, it’s just a great time to debate and hope our team comes up with the right pick.