On Monday, the Buffalo Bills announced what jersey number each of their 2018 NFL Draft selections will wear. Some players stuck with their college numbers, while others honored members of their family in selecting a jersey. Some even selected jersey numbers that may allows fans to follow a time-honored Buffalo tradition of re-purposing jerseys when a new player arrives.
Wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, drafted in the sixth round, will wear number 3. He becomes the first player since EJ Manuel to don the jersey. He is the first Bills player not to play quarterback or kicker to wear the number.
First-round selection Josh Allen will stick with his college number, 17, when he suits up for the Bills. The third quarterback taken will be the first player since wide receiver Justin Hunter to wear number 17 in a regular season game for the Bills. In terms of approximate value (AV), profootballreference.com lists quarterback Warren Rabb as the most successful “17” in Bills’ history. He played for the team during the 1961-62 seasons, compiling a 6-3-1 record as a starter.
Cornerback Taron Johnson chose number 24, a jersey which has plenty of history in Bills’ lore. While it was most recently worn by cornerback Leonard Johnson, the three most successful players to wear the jersey for Buffalo were cornerback Terrance McGee, defensive back Booker Edgerson, and safety Kurt Schultz, all of whom had a career AV of 41 or greater.
Safety Siran Neal will wear number 29, which was worn by both Robert Blanton and Shamarko Thomas in 2017. In terms of career AV, Mario Clark leads the way with 53. He had 25 interceptions as a member of the Bills from 1976-1983. Former first-round pick Derrick Burroughs also wore number 29. His career was cut short after a spinal injury suffered led to the discovery that Burroughs had cervical stenosis, which led to Buffalo’s team doctor recommending his retirement after only 4 seasons.
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, the second of Buffalo’s two first-round choices, will wear number 49. The ultra-talented soon-to-be 20 year-old selected a number that has not been worn by many Bills, having only been worn by two players in the 21st century (Bryson Albright and Tim Massaquoi).
Guard Wyatt Teller chose number 75, which has traditionally been a solid number for Bills offensive linemen. Howard “House” Ballard wore it during his time with the team, as did Jonas Jennings. Defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley also wore number 75 for Buffalo.
Wide Receiver Austin Proehl chose to honor his father with his jersey number, selecting the same number 87 that his dad wore over a 17-year NFL career. Gerald Christian, a reserve tight end, was the last Buffalo player to wear the number aside from Jordan Matthews (who I somehow omitted in an earlier version of this article...oops!). LaVerne Torczon wore number 87 as a defensive end with the Bills during their first two seasons in the AFL, and he was the most productive wearer of the jersey by AV (22) over his career.
Finally, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips chose jersey number 99. The jersey most recently (and most successfully) worn by Marcell Dareus did not take long to be claimed again. Other than Dareus, defensive tackle Marcus Stroud also wore the jersey.
QB Josh Allen – 17
LB Tremaine Edmunds – 49
DT Harrison Phillips – 99
CB Taron Johnson – 24
S Siran Neal – 29
G Wyatt Teller – 75
WR Ray-Ray McCloud – 3
WR Austin Proehl – 87