Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report sent Bills fans into a frenzy today when he shared that the Buffalo Bills may be interested in trading up to the first pick of the 2014 NFL draft.
Word from the NFL meetings is the Texans are trying hard to deal the first pick in the draft. They want to move down and acquire extra selections. Sources say they might have a trade partner in the Bills, who appear interested in moving up. It is unclear who the Bills would want in a trade-up scenario. Some believe they would move up for a quarterback. They also could make good use of an offensive tackle such as Greg Robinson. And it would be something to see them pair Mario Williams with either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack.
It’s important to note that this is the time of year when rumors run rampant in regards to the NFL draft. While I don’t see the Bills personally trading up to the first overall pick, it’s still a fun topic of conversation. How have the Bills fared with the top overall pick? Let’s take a look.
Buffalo Bills History with the 1st Overall Pick
The Bills have drafted from the top spot in the NFL draft four times. Those picks netted Buffalo O.J. Simpson (1969), Walt Patulski (1972), Tom Cousineau (1979) and Bruce Smith (1985). The Bills are batting .500 from the draft spot.
Patulski played four years with the Bills and had 21.5 sacks during this time. He was eventually traded to the Cardinals for a second round pick. His career ended shortly thereafter with a knee injury.
Cousineau never played a game as a Bill, but he has a connection to two Bills greats. Buffalo obtained the first pick in the 1979 draft after trading O.J. Simpson to the 49ers. Cousineau was the choice, but instead of coming to Buffalo he landed in the CFL. The Montreal Alouettes offered Cousineau twice as much money as the Bills offered. Cousineau fared very well in the CFL but eventually wanted to join the NFL. Buffalo eventually traded his rights to the Browns for the 14th overall pick in the 1983 draft. The pick? Jim Kelly. Cousineau is a good trivia question at most for the Bills.
Simpson’s NFL career started off slowly, but in 1972 he emerged as one of the top running backs in the NFL. In nine seasons with the Bills, Simpson rushed for 10,183 yards and 57 touchdowns. The six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first team All-Pro ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Speaking of 1985, this was the last year the Bills have drafted first overall. With that pick, the team selected Bruce Smith. The defensive end played 15 seasons with the Bills and sacked the quarterback 171 times in that span. He’s quite possibly the greatest Buffalo Bill of all-time.
Buffalo’s history with the first overall pick is a bit of a mixed bag.
Who Would the Bills Target with the Top Pick?
There is only one name I can think of for the Bills and the top pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
With the top pick, teams are looking for a talent that doesn’t come along very often. For the Bills, that’s Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney is a disruptive force at defensive end. In his three seasons at South Carolina, Clowney accounted for 47 tackles for loss and 24 sacks. Clowney also accounted for 9 forced fumbles in this time. Selecting Clowney would create plenty of excitement in the fan base, sell plenty of tickets, and most importantly give Buffalo an incredible defensive line.
Jim Schwartz, Buffalo’s defensive coordinator, needs pressure from his defensive line to have success in his scheme. It’s hard to argue that Clowney, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams couldn’t get quite a bit of pressure on opposing team’s quarterbacks. On paper, this would be the best defensive line in the NFL. For this reason, Clowney is the only player I could see the Bills drafting first overall.
There are other prospects that I love in this draft, but I would not take them first overall. I’m extremely high on Teddy Bridgewater, but would the Bills draft a quarterback one season after taking EJ Manuel with the 16th pick? Doubtful.
Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson are outstanding offensive tackle prospects, but the Bills’ need is at right tackle. Buffalo will have options on day two to plug into the right tackle spot. With the first overall pick, this would not be the best pick for the Bills.
Sammy Watkins is one of the best players in the NFL draft, but have you seen the wide receiver prospects in this draft class? There are players who could fall into round three and four who would realistically play significant snaps in 2014.
Last, Khalil Mack has an extremely high ceiling, but taking him first overall isn’t worth it for Buffalo. It’d make for a great story, but it’s not the best route for the team.
Should the Bills Trade Up?
If the Bills trade up, I’ll say this: Buffalo believes that they’re ready to contend in the AFC East. A player like Jadeveon Clowney in a Bills jersey is tempting, but I don’t think the move is right for Buffalo.
The Bills have quite a few needs and in a draft class this deep, the best course of action for Buffalo is to stay put or trade back. In doing so, the team can fill holes, add depth and make a push in the AFC East.