The Buffalo Bills have not tasted the cold, frozen air of a playoff game since 2000. That game happened to be the infamous Music City Miracle against the Tennessee Titans. Yet here we are in 2016 and they have not made it back once, owning the longest playoff drought in three of America’s major sports (football, baseball, basketball). Following their last playoff appearance, the Bills had moderate success going 39-57 from 2000-2005. As previously highlighted by Jason Shannon, the team’s selections in the NFL Draft were among the main problems that plagued the Bills. That trend continued during the next five years of the drought, but they also uncovered a few diamonds in the rough. Today we’re looking at the 2006-through-2010 Buffalo Bills’ Drafts to see how they influenced the current 16-year-long playoff drought.
2006 NFL Draft
The 2006 Draft was Marv Levy’s return to Buffalo, however, not as a coach, but as the General Manager. Levy’s first ever pick was Donte Whitner from Ohio State at eight overall. Whitner is a hard-hitting safety that also happens to have a big mouth. He was a serviceable starter for five years until he bolted to the San Francisco 49ers when his rookie deal was up.
Defensive tackle John McCargo, their second first round pick that draft, was a major bust starting one game in five years and racking up 2.5 sacks before departing following the expiration of his rookie deal.
The second defensive back taken in this draft was Ashton Youboty, also from Ohio State. He gained a lot of steam leading up to the season as a potential steal, but like most picks he flamed out, getting only one interception in five years with Buffalo. The third and final defensive back taken was Ko Simpson from South Carolina. Unlike the player that Buffalo drafted before him, he found the field a lot more and started 27 games in three years before leaving to go to Detroit.
Buffalo’s best 5th round pick ever, Kyle Williams, was also selected in this draft and the only player still remaining on the team since then. Williams has started 131 games over his ten year career with the Bills and has been a dominant inside tackle his whole career.
The Bills’ last three picks produced 50 starts with all being average players. Keith Ellison being the best among them starting 40 games in five years with the team. The others lasted only a year.
Only one player was retained past their rookie deal from the Bills’ 2006 draft. However, while the players were wearing red and blue they played pretty good. Overall I would grade this draft a B-.
2007 NFL Draft
Marv Levy’s second official draft with Buffalo was also his last with them. After a 7-9 year in 2006, the Bills went back to the drawing board and decided to draft the player they thought would improve the roster the most, Marshawn Lynch, a running back from California, 12th overall. After retiring from football following the 2015 season, Lynch is a probable Hall of Fame candidate when he’ll become eligible in five years. However, he will not be inducted as a Buffalo Bill, but rather a Seattle Seahawk. During the 2010 season the Bills traded him to Seattle for a few mid-round draft picks. We all know who won that one.
Paul Posluszny really wasn’t all that good despite starting 45 games. The Bills did not retain him after his rookie deal was up so he left in free agency. He is currently enjoying a pretty mediocre career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bills third round pick in the 2007 Draft was Trent Edwards, aka Captain Checkdown. Edwards was the primary starter for about two years and was a game manager at best, with some all-too-frustrating games sprinkled in there too. He is one of the four(!) quarterbacks Buffalo has drafted since the playoff drought began in 2000.
The Bills’ final picks, Dwayne Wright, John Wendling, and C.J. Ah You mostly came and went after a few years without much playing time. Derek Schouman, however, stayed for three years and actually started 15 games, but wasn’t anything special.
Overall this draft deserves a C-.
2008 NFL Draft
After two years of meh drafting under Marv Levy the Bills handed the torch to Russ Brandon. And just like the man he replaced, Brandon didn’t draft too well.
With the 11th overall pick the Bills drafted Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin never became the player he was expected to be in the NFL. He started six games in his first season and was injured for the majority of his second. However, he made his impact on special teams his first year as the primary kick returner. McKelvin also found success as a punt-returner later on. He never lived up to his potential during his career with Buffalo and was cut following the 2015 season.
James Hardy, their 2nd round pick, was a massive 6’6 wideout from Indiana that a lot of people were excited for. It also turns out he was a massive bust, getting let go after two seasons. Chris Ellis also turned out to be a waste in the 3rd round as he did not develop into anything either. The small 4th rounder Reggie Corner from Akron actually turned out to be decent in his four years in the league, all with Buffalo.
Derek Fine turned out to be another mid-round tight end pick by the Bills that didn’t work out as he only lasted two years. Linebacker Alvin Bowen and corner Kennard Cox couldn’t get past training camp and running back Xavier Omon only lasted a year.
Demetress Bell turned out to be a really good left tackle that they drafted in the 7th round. He came out of college as a really raw prospect, much like Seantrel Henderson, and won the starting job. He eventually left after two years to sign a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
One of the Buffalo Bills’ best picks in the 2000s was Stevie Johnson in the 7th round. Johnson proved to be a dynamic receiver, and at the time seemed to be one of the only guys to give Revis Island some fits. He is the only Bill that has three consecutive season of 1000-plus receiving yards, despite having Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback. Stevie was great for his six year stay before getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2014.
Russ Brandon’s first draft was full of busts but also produced two steals. This draft deserves a D.
2009 NFL Draft
Russ Brandon’s second Draft as General Manager showed improvement, but still was not very good.
In round one he drafted Aaron Maybin from Penn State. Maybin was way overrated, and many fans had that sixth sense telling themselves he was a major bust. And that sense proved to be correct as he turned out to be a MAJOR bust. He went from being drafted 11th overall to flaming out after only two years. That was just a terrible, terrible pick.
With their second 1st round pick they drafted the center Eric Wood from Louisville. Eric Wood proved to be a reliable player that made it to a second contract and is still with the team today. Jairus Byrd from Oregon turned out to be a great pick as Byrd became a dominant ball-hawking coverage safety that wore Bills’ colors for the first five years of his career. The former 2nd round pick left in free agency on a big deal to the New Orleans Saints.
Their other 2nd round pick, Andy Levitre, started all 64 games he appeared in. As the starter he wasn’t fantastic by any means but he wasn’t terrible. That leaves him at pretty darn good for those four years. With no 3rd round pick the Bills had to wait until the 4th round to draft Shawn Nelson, the tight end from Southern Miss. The selection of Nelson marked the third straight draft that they drafted a tight end in the 4th round or later. Like the others he didn’t produce much, but did have one touchdown if that counts?
Nic and Cary Harris had the same last name but weren’t related at all. Even though they weren’t related they both didn’t last very long on the roster, both staying at One Bills Drive for only one year. Same deal with Ellis Lankster.
In review, the Bills 2009 draft provided three solid starters, but two left after their rookie deal and one major bust in the first round, with four players lasting a combined five years with the team.
That’s certainly not pretty, so this draft deserves a C.
2010 NFL Draft
Third time’s the charm for Russ Brandon, right? No, not really. Once again this was another disappointing draft.
In the first round at number nine they expended a pick on the explosive Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. This was another example of them drafting a talented running back, but the lack of investment in offensive linemen never let him reach his full potential and maybe even set him back a little bit. At 41 they infamously took defensive tackle Torell Troup over Rob Gronkowski, who ended up going to the Patriots, which still haunts them today. Troup never really developed into anything at all.
Alex Carrington, 3rd round pick, is still with the team moving forward today but has some suffered some pretty major injuries which has stunted development and not allowed him to see the field more. The pick after him, Marcus Easley, never turned out to be a good wideout, but he has been great on special teams. They signed him to an extension following the 2014 year.
Arthur Moats in the 6th round provided valuable depth at linebacker as he filled in as a starter a few times before leaving after year four to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tackles Ed Wang and Kyle Calloway, defensive end Danny Batten, and quarterback Levi Brown all amounted to nothing and got cut after only one year with the team.
In the end this draft provided the Bills with very little and did not improve the team that much in the long run. Grade: D.