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The best draft in Bills history: 25 years later

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

In February of 1985, then-Buffalo Bills general manager Terry Bledsoe suffered a major heart attack. The Bills were coming off a 2-14, season and their top quarterback from the 1983 draft was still playing his football in the USFL, where he was joined by the team's leading rusher. In short, things couldn't be going much worse for the bottom-dwelling Bills.

But with that heart attack, fate took over the Bills in the form of Bill Polian. Polian was the young Director of Pro Personnel, and with the help of Director of Scouting Norm Pollom ran the Bills' draft room in 1985. Polian took the reigns forcefully, negotiating with the top prospects for the first overall pick, and on April 30 and May 1 of that year put together one of the greatest draft classes ever.

With the top selection of the 1985 NFL Draft, the Bills took Bruce Smith. Smith would become the league's all-time sack leader and lead tough defenses for years in the blustery weather of Buffalo. Smith finished his career with 200 sacks, was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, and was named a first-team All-Pro eight times.

In the third round, the Bills picked another important member of the championship runs - Frank Reich. Reich proved his worth when leading the Bills as Jim Kelly's backup, and in the 1992 playoffs led the Bills back from a 32-point deficit to defeat the Oilers on the road to Super Bowl XXVII.

In the fourth round, the Bills selected Andre Reed from Kutztown State. Reed is the Bills' all-time leading receiver and formed the back end of a 1-2 punch with Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly that became one of the best combinations in league history.

Other members of the 1985 draft class to be contributors were DB Derrick Burroughs and WR Chris Burkett. Burroughs started 41 games at cornerback for Buffalo before a spinal cord injury ended his playing career. Burkett, selected prior to Andre Reed, had 137 receptions over five seasons with the Bills.

OG Mark Traynowicz, LB Hal Garner, OT Dale Hellestrae, WR Jimmy Teal, DE Mike Hamby, KR Ron Pitts, FB Jacque Robinson, DB Glenn Jones, OF Chris Babyar, LB James Seawright, and PK Paul Woodside rounded out the rest of the 12 rounds' worth of selections.