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The Buffalo Bills and the 2006 NFL Draft: all 22 players ranked

Reggie Bush is the 23rd player from the 2006 NFL Draft to spend time on the Bills roster. Here's a ranking of the other 22.

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With the signing of Reggie Bush to fill the roles of backup running back and return specialist, the Buffalo Bills have now employed 23 players who heard their names called during the 2006 NFL Draft, including each of the first three overall picks and seven of the first 32.

Nine of those players were picked by the Bills, while the rest have rotated in and out over the years. Few of them have had any meaningful impact, but a couple have been major contributors for a time.

Here's a rundown of the 22 players who put on the Bills uniform for at least some in-game action, ranked by the quality of their careers in Western New York.

22. WR Chad Jackson (Florida)
Drafted 36th overall (Round 2) by the New England Patriots

Jackson earns the ignominy of the bottom spot on the list for two reasons:

1) He never played in a regular-season game for the Bills.
2) You have no idea who he is, unlike the others who didn't make the final cut.

Jackson was with the team for the 2010 offseason, but was part of the final set of cuts prior to the season opener. His name appeared in Pats Pulpit a few months ago, as he was part of a poll for the biggest draft bust in Bill Belichick's tenure in New England, and tied for second with 31% of the vote.

21. QB Matt Leinart (USC)
Drafted 10th overall (Round 1) by the Arizona Cardinals

Like Jackson, Leinart never played a regular-season down for the Bills. Unlike Jackson, you can at least remember his spectacular flameout in the red, white, and blue. He was signed prior to the 2013 preseason final as a fill-in for Kevin Kolb, had a night to forget, and was promptly cut, spending less than a week with the Bills. he hasn't been seen in the NFL since.

20. QB Vince Young (Texas)
Drafted 3rd overall (Round 1) by the Tennessee Titans

Yet another top-10 quarterback who only appeared in the preseason for the Bills, the former Longhorns standout was signed in the 2012 offseason to compete with Tyler Thigpen for a backup spot behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. He lost his job with the team after a terrible showing in the third preseason game against Pittsburgh, prompting the team to trade for another quarterback:

19. QB Tarvaris Jackson (Alabama State)
Drafted 64th overall (Round 2) by the Minnesota Vikings

Unlike Leinart and Young, Jackson actually spent a full season on the Bills roster. Like the others, however, he didn't appear in a regular-season game. After the Young debacle, the Bills sent a seventh-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Jackson, who spent the 2012 season as the team's third-stringer behind Fitzpatrick and Thigpen. He signed a contract with the Bills after the season ended but couldn't make it to the 2013 season without being cut. He's currently busy being a terrible person, so the Bills didn't really miss much by releasing him.

18. DT John McCargo (North Carolina State)
Drafted 26th overall (Round 1) by the Buffalo Bills

Of the 18 players from this draft who actually played for the Bills, McCargo's impact was probably the worst. That's not from an on-the-field standpoint, mind you: McCargo played in 44 games for the Bills from 2006 to 2010. The problem is that then-GM Marv Levy flipped two picks, a second and a third, to move back in to the first to take him, a move that was questioned even then. McCargo did appear in all 16 games in 2007 but started only once in his five years with the Bills. He was traded to the Colts in 2008, who promptly sent him back after a failed physical. He spent one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before dropping out of the league in 2011.

17. DE Mark Anderson (Alabama)
Drafted 159th overall (Round 5) by the Chicago Bears

McCargo's total impact might have been more negative, but Anderson was by far a bigger disappointment in a Bills uniform. When the team signed him in 2012, he was coming off a 10-sack season as a backup in New England. He also recorded 12 sacks in his rookie campaign with Chicago, so it's hard to call him a one-year wonder. That led to high expectations when he signed a four-year, $19.5 million deal to join a couple of other players on this list to form one of the more vaunted defensive lines in the league.

That didn't happen.

Anderson appeared in five games, starting four, before a knee injury ended his season (and, ultimately, his career). Even before he was hurt, though, he didn't inspire the confidence that led the team to sign him, recording only one sack and generally not making his way to the quarterback as much as he needed to to justify that contract. He was released after the season and never played another down in the league.

16. TE Tim Massaquoi (Michigan)
Drafted 244th overall (Round 7) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Massaquoi played in four games for the Bills in 2007. He didn't have any receiving stats. I can't remember him for the life of me, although the name is vaguely familiar. That's about it.

15. OG Aaron Merz (California)
Drafted 248th overall (Round 7) by the Buffalo Bills

Merz, the lowest pick on this list, played in seven games for the Bills in 2006, including one start, a 28-6 loss to New England. That's the extent of his NFL career. Nowadays, he and his wife are working to provide aid and education to children in Zambia. He'd certainly be higher on the list for achievement as a person, but his NFL career was largely forgettable.

14. RB Quinton Ganther (Utah)
Drafted 246th overall (Round 7) by the Tennessee Titans

I can't say I remember Ganther's career very well, but he appeared in 36 games over five seasons with four different teams. The final eight of those games came with the Bills in 2010, when he totaled 18 yards on nine carries. His longest was for 11 yards, a run that was overshadowed by the Stevie Johnson coming-out party. He didn't latch on with the team past that season, nor did he make any other team's roster.

13. TE Joe Klopfenstein (Colorado)
Drafted 46th overall (Round 2) by the St. Louis Rams

Between November 17 and December 18 of 2009, the Bills signed Klopfenstein three times. Seriously, the same team signed the same player three times in 31 days. In that stretch, he started one game and caught an 11-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick in a 30-7 snoozefest victory over an Indianapolis Colts team that was resting its starters for a playoff run. One of the times he was cut from the roster was to make room for Richie Incognito during his first stretch with the Bills. He did manage to stay on the roster during the 2010 offseason, yet he landed on injured reserve and was released before the season began. Like so many 2006 draftees before him, his stint with the Bills was his last stop in the NFL.

12(t). OT Terrance Pennington (New Mexico)
Drafted 216th overall (Round 7) by the Buffalo Bills

Pennington's career was eminently forgettable, but he did start nine games as a rookie for Dick Jauron's 7-9 Bills squad. Of course, that team finished 27th in the league in rushing and surrendered 47 sacks, so that's not necessarily something to hang your NFL career on. Pennington didn't stick with the team past that season and appeared in five games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 before his career ended.

12(t). OT Jonathan Scott (Texas)
Drafted 141st overall (Round 5) by the Detroit Lions

Like Pennington, Scott was a low-round pick who only played in one season with the Bills, so these two are somewhat interchangeable. Scott's experience was more recent, as he started in eight games during the 2009 campaign. Scott did manage a fuller career than Pennington, starting 35 games over seven seasons with 5 different teams, but he was never really able to stick anywhere. As far as the Bills are concerned, though, neither player was all that memorable.

10. WR Derek Hagan (Arizona State)
Drafted 82nd overall (Round 3) by the Miami Dolphins

After stints with the Dolphins, New York Giants, and Oakland Raiders (who released him halfway through the 2011 season), Hagan was a mid-year signing by the Bills and appeared in four games with one start. He played reasonably well over that stretch, catching at least two passes in every game and closing with a seven-catch, 89-yard effort in a 49-21 season-ending loss in New England. He did stick with the team through the 2012 preseason but was cut before the season began. He returned to Oakland that year and spent 2013 with the Titans before retiring at age 30.

9. CB Ashton Youboty (Ohio State)
Drafted 70th overall (Round 3) by the Buffalo Bills

My lasting memory of Youboty is his absurdly long neck, which says all you need to know about his career on the field. He did earn a good amount of playing time as a slot corner early on, and started seven games in his five seasons in Buffalo. He also had two sacks, which is a good number for a corner but a telling stat given he only recorded one interception with the team. He made his way to Jacksonville in 2011, where he started five games for the 5-11 Jaguars in his final season in the league.

Youboty is in camp with the Bills this season, joining the team as a Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellow for the season.

8. S Ko Simpson (South Carolina)
Drafted 105th overall (Round 4) by the Buffalo Bills

Simpson was a decent commodity coming out of South Carolina, making the All-SEC team as a sophomore. He played well enough for the Bills, starting 27 games over three seasons (he lost the 2007 season to a Week One injury). During the 2008 offseason, Simpson was arrested for disorderly conduct after interrupting an arrest of another man by shouting how he was "worth millions." They didn't immediately cut him, but he was traded to Detroit for a seventh-round pick just before the 2009 season. He played in eight games before another knee injury ended his season early, and that was it for his NFL career.

7. WR/KR/"QB" Brad Smith (Missouri)
Drafted 103rd overall (Round 4) by the New York Jets

This name brings up so many memories. It reminds me of that wonderful era in the NFL where every team thought that having halfbacks and receivers throw passes was a legitimate offensive strategy. It was a wonderful stretch of about a season and a half, where every college quarterback who had to switch positions to make it in the NFL was suddenly a hot commodity.

It was around this time that the offensive genius that is Chan Gailey thought that he could make use of one of these "jack of all trades, master of none" types, and to that end the Bills signed Smith to a four-year deal prior to the 2011 season. Smith was brought in to do a little bit of everything, and to his credit he did do a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, he didn't do enough of anything. In Smith's 32 games with the Bills he ran 34 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns, caught 37 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns, and returned 33 kickoffs for 778 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two passes and, not coincidentally, two interceptions.

The arrangement lasted until the second game of 2013. A preseason injury that hobbled him led him to the IR list, and eventually an outright release from the team. He moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles later that season, where he played out the final season and a half of his career. A reunion with the Bills almost came to fruition last summer, but the team decided against signing him.

6. OG Brad Butler (Virginia)
Drafted 143rd overall (Round 5) by the Buffalo Bills

Butler was a decent lineman for a time with the Bills. After playing only twice as a rookie, he started all 16 games in his second season, and another 13 the season after that. Unfortunately, the injuries that limited his playing time as a rookie also ended up derailing his career, which ended after two games of the 2009 season at age 26. Butler also seemed to be driven to work outside of football, and has kept busy in politics and community outreach since hanging up his cleats.

5. LB Manny Lawson (North Carolina State)
Drafted 26th overall (Round 1) by the San Francisco 49ers

This feels far too high for Lawson. I think I'm subliminally giving him extra credit for the fact that he's still on the team and can absolutely validate this ranking with a strong 2016. That said, he hasn't done a whole lot as a Bill. He's appeared in 47 of a possible 48 games over the last three seasons, with 29 starts sandwiched around a 2013 where he barely played in Jim Schwartz's defense. He was a fairly important contributor under Mike Pettine, though, and he regained that role in Rex Ryan's defense. Lawson recorded 45 tackles and a sack last season, and should at least meet those numbers this coming season if his recent injury isn't serious.

4. LB Keith Ellison (Oregon State)
Drafted 178th overall (Round 6) by the Buffalo Bills

This is another player who feels a little too high, but Ellison's five-year career in Buffalo was probably better than you or I remember it. He started 40 games with the Bills, topping out at 14 in 2008, and recorded 265 tackles (164 solo) in 58 total games. He was a real grinder who could play a good game at linebacker, which is more than most sixth-rounders end up contributing to the league. A quad injury ended his 2010 season early, and he wasn't able to stick with the Bills or any other team after that point. Still, he did have a pretty strong career and was a decent player on some bad Bills teams in the late 2000's.

3. S Donte Whitner (Ohio State)
Drafted 8th overall (Round 1) by the Buffalo Bills

I didn't want to put Whitner this high, given his acrimonious relationship with the team and city during and after his release. Still, his career as a Bill speaks for itself. In five seasons with the team, including 66 starts, Whitner recorded 451 tackles (323 solo), three forced fumbles, and five interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. It was a wonder that he never made a Pro Bowl in Buffalo, something he did three times after leaving the team and spending time in both San Francisco and Cleveland. He's currently a free agent, and it's possible that some team is going to call on him before the season begins.

2. DE Mario Williams (North Carolina State)
Drafted 1st overall (Round 1) by the Houston Texans

What's left to be said about Mario Williams? He signed the first $100 million deal for a defensive player in NFL history in 2012 after one of the lengthiest (and suspenseful) free agent visits ever. His first three seasons saw him record 39 sacks, earn two Pro Bowl nods, and even garner a first-team All-Pro award after his 14.5-sack 2014 season. He spent last season playing entirely mediocre football, complaining about his role in the defense, and completely justifying the Bills' decision to release him in the offseason (I still wish him well).

His legacy as a Bill is complicated, largely because of last season but also because the team didn't end its playoff drought during his tenure, something that wasn't entirely his fault. He was never going to be the greatest defensive end in team history, but he was their best player for three seasons. It won't be weird to see him with the Dolphins twice this season, but it'll probably sting, at least a little bit.

1. DT Kyle Williams (Louisiana State)
Drafted 134th overall (Round 5) by the Buffalo Bills

During the entire Bills playoff drought, there are three players who stand head-and-shoulders above the rest in the eyes of the fans: Brian Moorman, Fred Jackson (who made his NFL debut in 2006 but was draft-eligible in 2003), and Kyle Williams.

That's not an honor that was bestowed on him by default for being the longest-tenured Bill or starting the most games of any player during the playoff drought. Williams has legitimately been one of the best defensive tackles in the league over the last ten seasons, injuries notwithstanding. He made four Pro Bowls in a five-year stretch from 2010 to 2014 (he missed most of 2011 with an injury), earned a second-team All-Pro nod in 2010, and recorded at least five sacks in each full season during that stretch. he's played just about every possible defensive line position, including a run at nose tackle during the George Edwards/Dave Wannstedt 3-4 era.

After missing most of last season to injury, Williams is still rehabbing and currently on the PUP list. A Week One return is possible, but the team will likely keep him sidelined until they're sure he's ready to go with minimal re-injury risk. He should still be able to contribute at a high level for a few more seasons. Even if he were to retire tomorrow, though, he'd be deserving of a spot on the Wall.

It's hard to imagine that Reggie Bush will be the 14th teammate he's had who was picked ahead of him in 2006.