An Examination of Bills Second Rounders

Posted on March 25, 2010 by Patrick Moran

Donovan McNabb BuffaloNow that it’s common knowledge the Philadelphia Eagles are at least entertaining trade offers for Donovan McNabb, it’s only logical for the Buffalo Bills to be linked to rumors.  The Bills are one of the few teams in the league with a completely unsettled quarterback situation, so much that as of now Chan Gailey claims there will be an open competition come training camp.

It’s being reported the Eagles could part with McNabb for a second round pick.  It’s also been reported that the St. Louis Rams have already offered their second round pick (33rd overall) to the Eagles, though both sides have denied such an offer.

Buffalo owns the ninth pick of the second round, the 41st overall.

The following is not an examination of McNabb and if he’d be a good fit for Buffalo.

Personally, it’s not a trade I see happening.  The Bills won’t trade without a contract extension in place and McNabb allegedly has said he has no interest in signing such a deal with the Bills.

But regardless, we’re not chronicling whether his being under center would make the Bills a playoff contender or improve on their six-win total of a year ago.

Instead we’re going to focus on what the compensation would really entail, given the team’s recent draft history.  A second round pick shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Sure, by the time teams are on the clock in round two the commissioner doesn’t announce the picks at the podium, but the selection is a critically important building block of a football team.

Second rounders are expected to become starters.

The Bills have had moderate success with their second round picks over the last 15 years. They’ve had a few Pro Bowlers, a couple of middle of the road guys and frankly, a flat-out bust or two.

The following is a look at the last 15 second round picks the Bills have selected, categorized by yours truly.  Feel free to disagree.

The Great Ones

Jairus Byrd (2009): It’s rare to have a second round rookie make such a big impact, but Byrd was arguably the Bills best player last season, quite the accomplishment considering he wasn’t a full time starter.  Byrd played in 14 games and tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions and was voted to the Pro Bowl, though a groin injury prevented him for participating.  His future here looks very bright.

Aaron Schobel (2001): If the Bills had more second round selections like Schobel there’s little doubt they’d have participated in a few playoff games last decade.  Schobel has reached double digits in sacks four times including last season and has 78 total in 133 games. He’s moving to outside linebacker in the 3-4 assuming he doesn’t retire.  Even if he never plays another down for Buffalo he’ll go down as one of the better second rounders the team has ever taken.

The Ones Who Almost Got There

Travis Henry (2001): For two years Tom Donahoe looked like a genius for drafting him.  After a decent rookie season, Henry exploded his sophomore campaign to the tune of 1,438 rushing yards and followed it up the next season with 1,356.  The next season the Bills drafted Willis McGahee and within two years, Henry was jettisoned out of Buffalo.  Perhaps Donahoe was on to the off-field problems that would soon plague him, but for a short amount of time Henry was one of the league’s best running backs.  Unfortunately for him and the team, it didn’t last long enough.

Peerless Price (1999): The second rounder out of Tennessee was one of the game’s best number two receivers during his first go round with the team. His 2002 season was magical when he caught 94 passes for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns.  Following that year he was franchised and later traded to Atlanta.  Price returned in 2006 as a free agent, but by that time was merely a shell of his former self. He had 49 catches in 2006 before being gone for good after four games in 2007. Overall he was a quality pick and had he stayed and had a few more good years he’d be near the top of this list.

Sam Cowart (1998): He looked like he was on his way to stardom in his first three years with the team.  In 2000 he had 130 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions.  Sadly during the opening day of 2001 his career took a turn for the worse after suffering a terrible Achilles tendon injury.  He missed the rest of the season and never played another down for the Bills.  He went on to have some success with the New York Jets, but never matched what he showed during his far-too-brief Buffalo tenure.

Marcellus Wiley (1997): Wiley was well on his way to being one of the league’s best pass rushers. In his fourth season with the Bills he reached 10.5 sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl.  Following that season however, Wiley took the money and ran.  The free agent signed with San Diego for six-years and $40 million. He had 13 sacks his first season with the Chargers but it went downhill after that.  Much like Cowart, had Wiley been in Buffalo longer he’d be near the top of this list.

The Ones With Plenty Of Potential

Paul Posluszny (2007): Posluszny’s had a solid if unspectacular first three years in the league… when’s he’s actually on the field.   He’s had 100+ tackles in each of the past two years and his three interceptions last year showed he can make big plays.  However, his twice-injured arm is a concern.  Posluszny is expected to be a beneficiary of the 3-4 defensive switch coming and 2010 will be a good indicator of where his career headed.  Is he a star or just “another guy” on the defense?

Andy Levitre (2009): While overall the Bills offensive line was a mess last year, Levitre arguably had the most consistent year.  He performed adequately as a rookie left guard starter from day one and injuries forced him to also spend time at tackle.  New general manager Buddy Nix is working feverishly to improve the line, but Levitre seems to be the least of their problems.

The Ones With Plenty To Prove

James Hardy (2008): It’s kind of unfair to evaluate him after two seasons that’s been marred with a severe ACL knee injury.  One thing is for certain; it doesn’t bode well for him that Perry Fewell had no interest in getting him on the field once he was healthy during the second half of 2009.  With the Bills failing to land a big ticket wide receiver in free agency and unlikely to select one early in the draft, it appears Hardy will finally get a chance to prove his worth in his third year.  The supporters will say it took Eric Moulds three years to jumpstart his career.  Regardless of your stance, the bottom line is he’s done next to nothing at this point and has a lot to prove.

The Ones That Didn’t/Don’t Matter Much

Chris Kelsay (2003): Sure, the Bills have gotten six years out of him (to this point) as a starter, but players like Kelsay are indicative of why the Bills are annually a playoff observer.  He’s been decent but nothing to write home about.  He has 22 sacks and five forced fumbles in 110 career games. Gritty and hardworking is the book on him, but easily replaceable.

Josh Reed (2002): See Kelsay.  Reed was somewhat productive during his seven-year tenure here, but failed to reach the level the front office hoped when taking him early in 2002.  He never reached 60 receptions or 600 yards in a season.  At his best he was a solid number three.  At worst he was a failure as a legitimate starting option.

Ryan Denney (2002): Productivity- wise he was a poor man’s version of Kelsay.  There’s nothing really more to add than that.

Gabe Northern (1996): He showed promise as a rookie with five sacks, but never did much after that. He’d go on to have just five and a half sacks over his next three years before fleeing to Minnesota in 2000.

The Busts

Roscoe Parrish (2005): Donahoe used the Bills first pick in this draft on Parrish because he thought he could be a game changer at receiver.  He was wrong.  In part because he hasn’t had a surplus of chances, but more so because he hasn’t taken advantage of them, Parrish has barely made a whimper in the passing game.  He’s never had more than 32 catches in a season or 350 yards.  To his credit he was one of the best punt returners in football, but fumbled his way out.

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