In case you hadn't heard, the 2016 NFL Draft is coming up in two weeks. The Buffalo Bills have eight picks in the draft; two each in the fourth and sixth rounds, one each in the first, second, third, and fifth rounds, and none in the seventh round.
As with any draft, the later rounds will likely yield some quality players. Since the first common draft (after the AFL-NFL merger agreement) in 1967, there have been quality, tenured pro players selected at each position the Bills will be picking in this draft. Here's a look at what kind of players the team and their fans can
reasonably hope for come draft time; we started with Round 1, moved on to Rounds 2-3, and conclude with Rounds 4-7 today.
Round 4, No. 117 overall
- 2015: TE Blake Bell (San Francisco)
- Most recent Bills pick: N/A
- Other notables: WR Steve Largent (1976), DB Steve Freeman (1975), LB Riki Ellison (1983)
Largent, the Hall-of-Fame Seattle receiver who retired with many of the records that Jerry Rice eventually broke, is one of two Pro Bowlers to be picked at No. 117 overall. The other is Leon Washington (2006), who made two Pro Bowls as a kick returner for the Jets and Seahawks, and is currently filling the same role for the Titans.
Ellison, a rare New Zealand native in the NFL, was drafted out of USC and started 16 games for two of Bill Walsh's Super Bowl winners. More recently, Manny Ramirez (2007) was a primary player on the offensive line for Peyton Manning's Super Bowl teams in Denver.
While the Bills have never picked 117th overall, Freeman (who failed to make the roster in New England and debuted with the Bills in 1976) started 134 games over 11 seasons with the Bills, recording 23 interceptions and recovering eight fumbles from the safety position.
Round 4, No. 139 overall
This pick has been something of a dead zone over the years. No player picked at No. 139 overall has made a Pro Bowl, although many have hung around for a few seasons. Bannan, a jack-of-all-trades type who spent his first four seasons with the Bills, is actually the leader among the group in games played with 163. Olson, however, is the leader in starts, notching 140 in 10 seasons with the Titans franchise.
Aside from Bannan, the Bills have picked in this spot two other times in the past. In 1992, the team selected safety Matt Darby, who started 23 games over four seasons (including 16 in the post-Super Bowl 1994 season) and intercepted eight passes before finishing his career in Arizona. The next season, Buffalo selected another defensive back, Sebastian Savage. He appeared in three games and recorded one tackle before departing the NFL.
Round 5, No. 156 overall
This group has two Pro Bowl players, notably Newman, the former Dolphin. He made the team in his final four seasons, even earning an All-Pro nod in his final season, which was capped with a loss to San Francisco in Super Bowl XIX. Kampman made two Pro Bowls with the Packers, and finished his career with 58 sacks, including a career-high 15.5 in 2006.
King, who started one game as a rookie before moving on to Tennessee, is one of four players the Bills have picked at this position. Sammy Morris (2000) appeared in 53 games over four seasons with the Bills and ran for over 3,000 yards in his 12-season career spent with four teams. Jay Foreman (1999) started 16 games for the hapless 2001 Bills squad at inside linebacker before being selected by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft, where he'd spend the next three seasons as the team's primary middle linebacker. Finally, defensive back Raymond Jackson (1996) recorded three interceptions in 35 games over three seasons with the Bills before doing the same over 38 games with Cleveland.
Round 6, No. 192 overall
For the first time since the third round, the Bills have a spot where a Hall-of-Famer was selected. Sharpe had the benefit of catching passes from John Elway for most of his prime, but still earned plenty of recognition as one of the best tight ends to play the game and one of the forerunners to the modern look of the position as a primary receiver. The other Pro Bowler is the only player the Bills have picked at any of these spots to make the squad, albeit as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in 1974.
Batten spent one season in the NFL, starting four games for the 6-10 Bills squad and recording half a sack. Prior to Batten, the Bills picked at No. 192 in 1994, when the selected receiver Kevin Knox. He appeared in two games for the Cardinals in 1994, and that marks the entirety of his NFL career.
Round 6, No. 218 overall
- 2015: OL Anthony Morris (Oakland)
- Most recent Bills pick: QB Luc Tousignant (1982)
- Other notables: C Tom Nalen (1994), DB Mike Weger (1997)
If the Bills can end up with a player half as good as Nalen was in this spot, they should consider themselves lucky. Nalen made five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams over 14 seasons in Denver, starting 188 regular season games and winning two Super Bowls in Elway's final seasons (which is apparently a theme for the Bills in the sixth round). Nalen is one of two Pro Bowlers selected at 218. The other is running back Jim Otis, who earned a nod with the Cardinals in 1975 after finishing fourth in the NFL with 1,076 rushing yards.
Tousignant is the only player the Bills picked in this spot, and he is one of many players picked at No. 218 to never appear in a NFL game. Fortunately, there were no other major contributors selected later in that draft, and the Bills addressed the quarterback position a little more effectively in 1983.