Two weeks ago, Dan Hope chose the Buffalo Bills’ five worst draft picks of the 21st century here at Buffalo Bills Draft. This week, we’ll take a more positive note, and in the process, open up the discussion to all of Buffalo Bills Draft’s writers and readers.
The Bills’ 21st century has been marked by failure more than success, as the Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999. Their failure has been due in part to poor drafting, with first-round picks who have not panned out like Mike Williams and Aaron Maybin.
The Bills’ drafting, however, certainly has not been all bad since the turn of the century. The Bills have found some terrific players in lower rounds, including 2009 second-round picks Jarius Byrd and Andy Levitre, 2008 seventh-round pick Stevie Johnson and2006 fifth-round pick Kyle Williams.
Does one of those players — or another player the Bills have selected since the turn of the century — stand out to you as the team’s best draft pick? If so, comment below to let us know who your selection is and why! We will add your responses to the thread!
We’ll get the discussion started with the votes of BBD’s writers, and build upon it with your votes.
DT Kyle Williams (2006 NFL Draft, Round 5, No. 134 overall, LSU) (4 votes)
Eric Samulski (Staff Writer): The best Bills draft pick this millenium is easily Mike Williams. Sorry, too soon? In all honesty, the Bills have had a surprising number of solid picks since 2000, where players returned incredible value based on where they were drafted (Travis Henry, Sammy Morris, Terrence McGee, Stevie Johnson, Andy Levitre). For me, it all comes back to Kyle Williams. Stevie Johnson is a great WR, but anytime you can use a fifth-round pick and grab a multi-appeaance Pro Bowler, you’ve done something incredibly right. Williams is one of the top interior defensive lineman in the game and was an absolute steal in 2006.
Joe Marino (Staff Writer): Kyle Williams was an absolute steal. He has turned into one of the most consistent defensive players the Bills have had over the past decade. He’s been a Pro Bowl caliber player and is a fan favorite as his playing style and demeanor are perfect for Buffalo. The combination of productivity and value make him my choice for the Bills top selection.
Dan Hope (Editor): The Bills have gotten their best return value of the century thus far on the selection of Kyle Williams. While he does not get the national recognition he deserves, Williams has become of the NFL’s best nose tackles, especially in the past few seasons.
A terrific gap-filling run-stopper but also a decent pass-rusher for a nose tackle, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded Williams as the NFL’s best defensive tackle in 2010 and third-best defensive tackle last season. By getting a first-round talent in Williams in Round 5, the Bills more than made up for their other defensive tackle selection from that season, first-round pick bust John McCargo.
Joseph Curtis (Staff Writer): While I believe Terrence McGee may have had the best career so far, he’s no longer with the team and Williams has quite a few years left in his career. Williams is a great value as a Pro Bowl player and arguably one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game.
WR Stevie Johnson (2008 NFL Draft, Round 7, No. 224 overall, Kentucky) (1.5 votes)
Ryan Talbot (Staff Writer): Johnson may not be a prototypical No. 1 receiver, but he’s been outstanding for Buffalo. In his last three seasons he’s eclipsed 1,000 yards and he has 25 touchdowns for his career. Johnson is still in his prime so this pick is only going to get better value-wise.
Duncan (Reader Response): I have to say either Johnson or Byrd. Johnson for the simple fact that he has produced even with less than stellar QB’s (aka Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick).
FS Jairus Byrd (2009 NFL Draft, Round 2, No. 42 overall, Oregon) (1.5 votes)
Glenn Gifford (Staff Writer): Buffalo took two players before Byrd in 2009. He is a two-time Pro Bowl player and a key to the Bills’ defense. Jairus is an ideal teammate with no character issues and is now commanding top safety money. The Bills franchise tagged him this offseason because he is a franchise player.
I was initially upset when the Bills picked Byrd. I will eat crow and say that I was a fool. Byrd’s production, character and consistency make this “ball hawk” my top Bills selection.
Duncan (Reader Response): I have to say either Johnson or Byrd. Byrd because he has gone through four defenses, three HC’s, and has had three different teammates line up next him three years in a row (Whitner, Wilson, and now probably Searcy), and yet has still been able to play at a high level know matter what.
G Andy Levitre (2009 NFL Draft, Round 2, No. 51 overall,Oregon State) (Honorable Mention)
The Bills’ fourth selection in the 2009 NFL draft, Andy Levitre quickly became one of the NFL’s elite guards. Levitre only played four seasons with the Bills, but was so consistently good that he earned a lucrative six-year, $46.8 million deal from the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Levitre never missed a start in four seasons with the Bills.
DE Aaron Schobel (2001 NFL Draft, Round 2, No. 46 overall, TCU) (Honorable Mention)
Aaron Schobel had a great nine-year career for the Buffalo Bills in which he tallied 78 total sacks. Schobel was a good pass-rusher who had double-digit sacks in four of his NFL seasons, but was a three-down player who was also strong and physical against the run. Schobel played all 16 games in eight of his nine NFL seasons.
CB/KR Terrence McGee (2003 NFL Draft, Round 4, No. 111 overall, Northwestern State) (Honorable Mention)
Terrence McGee was a true small-school steal in the 2003 NFL Draft. He was one of the NFL’s best kickoff returners early in his career, and finished his career with more than 5,450 kickoff return yards and five kickoff return touchdowns. McGee also started 90 games for the Bills at cornerback from 2003-2011, and although he was inconsistent in coverage, he had 89 pass defenses (17 interceptions).