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Bills best and worst draft picks, from Tom Cousineau to Jim Kelly

By Tim Graham

NFL.com has been running a series of articles examining every team's best and worst draft picks since 1966, the start of the Super Bowl era.

The Bills' breakdown was posted today, with five finalists in each category accompanied by a poll that allows fans to select the superlative picks.

Best

  • • Jim Kelly, 14th overall in 1983
  • • Bruce Smith, first overall in 1985
  • • Thurman Thomas, 40th overall in 1988
  • • Andre Reed, 86th overall in 1985
  • • O.J. Simpson, first overall in 1969

Worst

  • • Mike Williams, fourth overall in 2002
  • • Aaron Maybin, 11th overall in 2009
  • • Tom Cousineau, first overall in 1979
  • • J.P. Losman, 22nd overall in 2004
  • • James Hardy, 41st overall in 2008

While it's difficult to argue with any of the "best" candidates, what about those longshots who had fine careers? Hitting on the first overall pick shouldn't be difficult. Simpson was a no-brainer in 1969.

I'd like to have seen one of those late-round fliers get consideration. Right tackle Howard Ballard was an 11th-round stab in 1987 but was a two-time Pro Bowler who started 10 NFL seasons. Defensive lineman Kyle Williams was a 2006 fifth-round pick who's gone to a couple Pro Bowls.

As for the "worst" candidates, I have a problem with Cousineau making the list. What made him a bad pick wasn't his talent -- he started more NFL games than 1972 first overall pick Walt Patulski -- but the fact he refused to sign with the Bills.

Besides, the Bills turned Cousineau into the draft pick that became Kelly. Without the Cousineau selection and the subsequent contract squabble, the Bills wouldn't have gotten their Hall of Fame quarterback.

Defensive tackle Torell Troup, taken one pick ahead of superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski in 2010, warrants a spot in the poll.

And why should Hardy be considered worse than Perry Tuttle (19th overall in 1982) or Tony Hunter (12th overall in 1983) or Erik Flowers (26th overall in 2000) or John McCargo (26th overall in 2006)?

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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