With draft season here, it’s important to remember that every pick is a gamble. Sometimes, teams win big and other times, not so much. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that the Buffalo Bills perpetually whiffed on their top picks, one of their many drought-era woes. So, I’ll be taking a look back at the Bills’ worst first round picks from the past 20 years.
1.) OT Mike Williams (2002)
The Buffalo Bills drafted Williams with the fourth overall pick, with players like Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth, and Ed Reed still on the board. The Bills switched his positions multiple times, from RT to LT, to Guard, to even DT in goal line situations. Eventually, after losing his starting spot to rookie Jason Peters, Williams would be released during the 2006 off-season. Williams signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he would never see the field. Then, he signed with the Washington Commanders, where he started eight games at RG before blood clots effectively ended his career.
2.) DE Aaron Maybin (2009)
Maybin was drafted with the 11th pick, but never made a true impact. In 2009, Maybin played in all 16 games, starting none, and made 18 tackles. In 2010, Maybin played in six games, totaling five tackles on 66 snaps before being a healthy scratch. During the Bills’ 2011 training camp, Maybin weighed in at a light 228 pounds, and would later be released by the team before the season. Maybin would then sign with the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and the CFLs Toronto Argonauts.
3.) QB JP Losman (2004)
After missing out on Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning, the Buffalo Bills traded back up into the first round with the Dallas Cowboys for Losman after taking Lee Evans. The Bills had high expectations for the first QB they selected in the first round since 1983. However, he would not pan out. In four seasons with the team, Losman was below average at best. Losman missed most of his rookie year after suffering a broken leg in his first training camp. In 2005, Losman would be benched for veteran Kelly Holcomb in week five. In 2007, the Bills stuck with Losman despite having third-round pick Trent Edwards waiting in the wings. The following year, Losman would (unsuccessfully) request a trade out of Buffalo.
After his rookie contract was up, and a very rocky tenure, Losman would go to the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives, where he spent one season before returning to the NFL. After making his way back to the league, he would sign with the then Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, and Miami Dolphins.
4.) QB EJ Manuel (2013)
The Bills drafted Manuel with the 16th pick of the 2013 draft. After a very promising start to his rookie year, Manuel suffered a knee injury that would force him to miss the next five weeks. Manuel totaled 11 TDs and nine INTs in his rookie year. His second year was cut short for a different reason, as he was benched in favor of veteran journeyman Kyle Orton following an 80 yard pick-six to JJ Watt in Week 4. Orton would lead the Bills their first winning season since 2004. The following year, Manuel would enter a QB battle with Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel, where he would later lose the job to Tyrod.
In his final year with the team, Manuel made spot starts, including three quarters of the season finale before being benched for Cardale Jones. After his Buffalo tenure ended, Manuel would sign with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring in 2019.
5.) CB Leodis McKelvin (2008)
Leodis McKelvin would start his rookie season as the fifth CB on the depth chart. During their MNF game against the Cleveland Browns, Leodis returned a kickoff 98 yards. In 2009, McKelvin would earn a starting spot opposite Terrance McGee. After an up and down second season that involved two fumbles against the New England Patriots, McKelvin ended up on the IR with a broken leg. Leodis started the 2012 season as the third CB on the depth chart, but continued to return kicks. On March of 2016, the Bills released McKelvin. He spent one season with the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring.