10 Buffalo Bills Drought Disappointments
If you’ve been reading my articles the last few weeks, you’ll know that I constructed the All-Drought Buffalo Bills team. I chose the best player at each position who never made the playoffs (with some exceptions) during their time in Buffalo. This week, I’m doing the opposite.
Now, I don’t want to say these are the worst players of the drought because it is difficult to make it to the NFL. All of these guys were talented, but for whatever reason things did not work out for both sides. So this list contains the top 10 drought players (15 with honorable mentions and a duplicate name) who did not pan out during their time in Buffalo.
Before we get into it, an important note – these players are listed in chronological order. I’m not trying to “bash” these guys and identify the worst player for the Bills over the last two decades. Besides, I’m sure everyone would have their own order anyways based on their age, rooting interests, etc. So again, here are the top players who underperformed for the Buffalo Bills during their 17-year playoff drought.
1. DE Erik Flowers
Erik Flowers was the Bills’ top pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, selected 26th overall in the first round. Once considered a top prospect (and a steal coming out of Arizona State), Flowers played only two seasons in Buffalo, starting just six games. During that span, he recorded 41 tackles, four sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble.
Buffalo released Flowers prior to the 2002 season. He was claimed off waivers by the Houston Texans, appeared in 14 games in ‘02, and tallied just four tackles before getting released during their final roster cuts in ‘03. Flowers was then claimed by the Pittsburgh Steelers… and released again just 13 days later. He signed with the St. Louis Rams in December, where he played the final four games of the ‘03 season and then nine games during the ‘04 season before calling it quits. Flowers finished his NFL career with 60 total tackles, five sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble.
2. FS Travares Tillman
Travares Tillman was another top pick for the Bills in the 2000 NFL Draft who never panned out. He was drafted in the second round (58th overall) but was released after just two seasons, just like Flowers. (Not the best draft class for the Bills, huh?) Tillman played in 28 games during his time in Buffalo, starting just 10 of them. He finished his short Bills career with 59 total tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Tillman played two seasons in Carolina and then in Miami for three years, where he finally started to catch on. He is now a DB coach at Georgia Tech, his alma mater.
3. Mike Williams (x2)
OT Mike Williams
Yes, there were two Mike Williamses who underwhelmed in a Bills uniform. The biggest one was the offensive tackle Buffalo drafted fourth overall in 2002. Following his senior year at Texas, Williams earned first-team All-Big 12 and first-team All-American selections. After four disappointing years starting at right tackle, the Bills tried switching him to left tackle, but he lost the job to Jason Peters. After not being able to latch on as a guard, the Bills released him following the ‘05 season.
Williams fell out of the NFL until the 2009 season, when he signed with the Washington Redskins. Because of injuries, he had to play right guard. He played well enough to receive a two-year contract extension but, unfortunately, saw his career cut short due to blood clots around his heart.
WR Mike Williams
The other Mike Williams, a WR out of Syracuse, was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fourth round pick in the 2010 Draft. He put up some solid numbers his rookie season with the Bucs, recording 65 receptions, 964 yards, and 11 TDs. After a down year in 2011, he rebounded with 63 receptions, 996 yards, and 9 TDs in 2012. He received a six-year, $40.25 million contract extension ahead of the 2013 season, but only had 22 catches for 216 yards and 2 TDs before being placed on injured reserve.
In April 2014, Williams requested a trade to his hometown team in Buffalo. Many thought the big-bodied Williams (6’2”, 212 pounds) would be a great addition to a wide receiver room that included Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, especially since he was reunited with his old college coach, Doug Marrone. However, Williams failed to impress. In nine games (no starts) with Kyle Orton and the Bills, Williams only caught eight balls for 142 yards and one touchdown. The Bills placed him on the waived/injured list on December 8. He was suspended for the first six weeks of the 2015 season, spent the rest of the year as a free agent, and was signed (then released) by Kansas City prior to the 2016 season, never playing in the NFL again.
4. QB J.P. Losman
The fourth quarterback taken in the 2004 NFL Draft, J.P. Losman was selected by the Bills 22nd overall. After watching Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger go within the first 11 picks and then drafting WR Lee Evans at 13, the Bills traded back into the first round to get their guy. Except Losman never turned out to be the guy.
Losman made his first professional start in the first game of the 2005 season, leading the Bills to a victory. However, he struggled the rest of the year and split time under center with Kelly Holcomb, finishing his second year with a 1-7 record. He started all 16 games in 2006 as he and the Buffalo Bills finished 7-9. Buffalo drafted QB Trent Edwards in 2007 and, again, Losman had to split time under center due to injuries, his performance, and coaching decisions. He asked to be traded following that season due to his decreased playing time. But the Bills hung onto him until his contract ran out; he started only two games in 2008.
In five years in Buffalo, Losman finished with a record of 10-23, a 59.3 completion percentage, 6,211 yards, 33 TDs, and 34 INTs. He had short stints as a backup with the Raiders, Seahawks (didn’t play a game there), and Dolphins before becoming an offensive coach at Clemson. He currently serves as a Player Personnel and Football Administration Assistant at the University of Oklahoma.
5. DT John McCargo
Sandwiched between Losman and Edwards on this list is John McCargo, another draft pick that never worked out. The Buffalo Bills traded up to draft McCargo 26th overall in 2006, a shocking move considering many draft experts expected him to be a second or third round pick. Well, the Bills should’ve listened to the experts as McCargo started just ONE out of 40 games played in Buffalo over five seasons. Even worse, he finished his Bills career with only 47 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery — with the latter three all coming in the 2007 season. McCargo had short stints with Tampa and Chicago following his time with the Bills, but he never lived up to that first-round draft status.
6. QB Trent Edwards
Trent Edwards was supposed to be our next savior as the Bills drafted him in the third round in 2007 to replace Losman. Except he never panned out either. After going 5-4 during his rookie year, Edwards got the Bills off to a hot 5-1 start in 2008, only to lose eight out of their last 10. (Edwards finished the year 7-7, Losman was 0-2.) After compiling a 2-5 record in 2009, and becoming known as “Captain Checkdown”, Edwards was benched for the final seven games in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He won the quarterback job in 2010 but, again, was benched for Fitzpatrick after just two games. However, this time he was not only benched… he was waived.
Edwards bounced around the league for a few years as a backup before fizzling out by the beginning of the 2014 season. In just over three years with Buffalo, he finished with a 14-18 record, 5,739 yards, 25 TDs, and 27 INTs, never throwing more than 11 touchdowns in a season.
7. LB Aaron Maybin
Maybe one of the worst draft picks in Buffalo Bills history, Aaron Maybin was selected 11th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Looking back, the only thing that makes me feel better about that is the Bills were also able to draft Eric Wood, Jairus Byrd, and Andy Levitre within the next 40 picks in that draft, so it wasn’t a complete fail. (Especially because all three of those players made my All-Drought team.)
In two seasons with the Bills (and just one start out of 27 games played), Maybin only had 25 total tackles, one forced fumble, and zero sacks. He played two years (2011 and 2012) with the Jets, where he managed to record six sacks, as well as 12 more tackles. It’s crazy to think that the 34-year old could still be playing right now if he had lived up to the hype. But, luckily, Maybin found his second calling as a professional artist.
8. WR T.J. Graham
T.J. Graham is another Buffalo Bills draft pick who (… do I need to finish the sentence? …) never lived up to expectations. Buffalo’s third round pick in 2012 was supposed to be a speed demon who could catch passes and return kicks. But, in two seasons before getting released, Graham only caught 54 passes for 683 yards and 3 TDs while returning one kick for 19 yards in 31 games played (17 starts).
Graham caught on with couple of teams after his short Buffalo tenure, but only caught seven passes for 111 yards and one touchdown in 16 games played between the Jets in 2014 and Saints in 2015.
9. DE IK Enemkpali
Well now, we are really getting into some crazy reasons for appearances on this list… IK Enemkpali is probably most known for punching Geno Smith in the face and breaking his jaw during a locker room altercation with the Jets on August 11, 2015. On August 12 (yes, ONE day after the incident), Rex Ryan brought him over to Buffalo. (What a difference in culture now with McDermott.) After serving a four-game suspension, Enemkpali returned to play in 11 games for the Bills in 2015, where he recorded 13 tackles and zero sacks. The next year, he got into a training camp altercation with OT Cyrus Kouandjio. The very next day, he suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Enemkpali never played another down in the NFL.
10. RB Reggie Bush
C’mon, you and I have more rushing yards for the Bills than Reggie Bush does. In 13 games with the Bills, Bush ran the ball 12 times… for -3 yards. That honestly takes some serious skill to do that — should we put him on the Wall of Fame? (Kidding.)
I must say though, Bush did get 90 receiving yards on seven catches with the Tyrod Taylor-led Bills, so he wasn’t completely shut out. In 11 seasons in the NFL, the former Heisman winner had 5,490 rushing yards and 36 TDs on 1,286 attempts (4.0 yards per carry). But for some reason, he just could not get on the plus side in Buffalo, and that is how his career ended in 2016.
QB Brian Brohm
Honestly you could put any Bills drought QB here… Kelly Holcomb, Gibran Hamdan, Jeff Tuel, Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, etc. I chose Brohm because he was drafted in the second round (56th overall) by Green Bay in 2008. After being third on the depth chart behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn, the Packers released him prior to his second season. The Bills signed him in November 2009 and, again, he was only a third-string quarterback behind Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brohm made two starts for the Bills between 2009 and 2010, losing by scores of 31-3 and 38-7. He threw no touchdowns and five interceptions.
DT Torell Troup
Torell Troup is a name I haven’t thought of much lately. I honestly forgot that he was drafted 41st overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2010. (He went one pick before Western New York native Rob Gronkowski.) Troup played only two seasons in the NFL before going on injured reserve in 2012. He was then released before the start of the 2013 season. He finished his NFL career with 31 total tackles and no sacks.
WR Marcus Easley
Marcus Easley was like T.J. Graham — another speedster who was supposed to help in the passing game and the return game, but never did. Inconsistent play and injuries derailed his career, as the former 2010 fourth-round pick only caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown over six seasons with the Bills. He also returned seven kicks for 171 yards.
QB E.J. Manuel
Another quarterback who was supposed to be “the one to end the drought”, Manuel was benched just four weeks into his second season, never being a full-time NFL starter again. Drafted 16th overall as a dual-threat quarterback out of Florida State in 2013, Manuel finished his four-year Buffalo Bills career with a 6-11 record, 3,502 passing yards, 19 TDs, and 15 INTs. He played in Oakland (as a backup) in 2017 and then officially retired in May 2019 before becoming a college football analyst for the ACC Network.
That totally wraps up the All-Drought series. As news is hard to come by at this time of the NFL year, I was fortunate enough to have some time to take a deep dive into the drought and take a look at who played well and who didn’t play well over those 17 painful years. But, like I said last week, having a team who is (currently) the Super Bowl favorites helps us to appreciate the drought years and all the memories that came from them.