In the past couple of years, we’ve seen some amazing first-round picks from the Buffalo Bills. Particularly when Brandon Beane took over. He has most notably given us Tre White, Tremaine Edmunds, Ed Oliver, and of course the cream of the crop, Josh Allen. All of the players named are still with the Bills and have made some extraordinary impacts on the team thus far. It wasn’t always like this.
A huge reason for the Bills’ playoff drought was because they drafted poorly, and many of the guys we thought were going to be the answer, never had much of an impact at all. As training camp is nearing its beginning, let’s take a look at the top five worst Buffalo Bills draft picks:
#5: 2006 Draft: John McCargo
John McCargo was drafted 26th overall by the Buffalo Bills. He was a defensive tackle selected out of North Carolina State and never truly made an impact the way the Bills thought he would. His defensive line counterpart Mario Williams was selected number one overall that year by the Houston Texans and quickly made an impact with them; however, the same could not be said about McCargo.
He spent five seasons with the Bills, only starting one game. Another first-round talent that was going to go to waste. He finished his career with 52 total tackles, and two and a half sacks and was released by three different teams. When the Bills released him in 2010 he was acquired by the Buccaneers, only for them to release him a year later. The Chicago Bears added him to their practice squad in 2012 but was released after that. McCargo would go to spend seven years in the NFL, with never an impact anywhere he landed.
#4: 2000 Draft: Erik Flowers
After the 2000 season, with the “Music City Miracle” that never would’ve happened in today’s NFL with the reviews, the Bills lost their franchise sack leader, arguably the best player to ever wear a Buffalo Bills uniform, Bruce Smith. When Smith left the Bills in free agency, Buffalo knew they had a huge hole to fill on the defensive side of the ball. They were hoping that Erik Flowers would be that guy and they would soon come to realize that he would not be that guy.
Flowers spent two seasons with the Bills, he appeared in all 16 games with them his rookie season recording 20 tackles and two sacks. The following year, he would start six games with the Bills. Once again totaling 21 tackles and only two sacks. That was the end of his tenure with the Bills after that.
He was released during training camp and signed by the Houston Texans only to be released again and again and again. He would soon sign with the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL but suffered a back injury before the beginning of the season. It was a short and difficult career for Erik Flowers, to say the least.
#3 2004 Draft: JP Losman
JP Losman was the first quarterback drafted by the Bills since 1983 when the Bills drafted Jim Kelly. JP Losman was part of a draft that saw some incredible talent at the quarterback position. Most notably Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger were all part of this draft class as well. Unfortunately for the Bills, Losman didn’t end up anywhere close to the other three in the draft. Granted his NFL career got off to a horrible start when his teammate accidentally ran into Losman and broke his leg. This delayed his development as a rookie.
In 2005, Losman was named the starting quarterback following the release of Drew Bledsoe. Shortly into the season Losman was having trouble with his accuracy and was thus benched in favor of Kelly Holcomb five games into the season.
In 2006, Losman had had a much-improved season in which he threw for 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions over 16 games and a 62.5 completion percentage. However, in 2007, the Bills drafted Trent Edwards in the third round of the draft and Losman always felt his presence breathing down his neck. Towards the end of the 2007 season, Losman did eventually lose his starting job to Trent Edwards and Losman was vocal about his unhappiness with the team.
He stayed for the 2008 season and played out his contract although he didn’t want to be with the team any longer. He once again did not find success in the 2008 season and Buffalo was happy to see him walk. He ended his career after being released from the Dolphins in 2011. He would go to end his NFL career with 6,271 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and 34 interceptions.
In an interesting quote from former Bills VP of player personnel, John Guy, he stated “JP never had a fair chance. I’ll never forget his first day of practice and they were blitzing him every which way. This isn’t the way to break in a new QB.” He’s definitely right about that. A guy needs a fair chance to show what he can do when he has time to throw the football.
Losman would go down as one of the Bills biggest busts and draft mistakes, but with constant coaching changes, no offensive line or running game help and several injuries, it’s tough to say if Losman was actually given a fair chance to succeed in Buffalo.
#2: 2009 Draft: Aaron Maybin
Aaron Maybin was a defensive end and would be selected with the 11th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft to the Buffalo Bills. He would then agree to a five-year contract with the Buffalo Bills.
He would play in all 16 games his rookie season; however, his stats would not reflect that. He finished the season with 18 total tackles and no sacks.
In his 2nd season, Maybin would see his role greatly reduced, only playing a total of 66 snaps before being a healthy scratch. In those 66 snaps, he would finish with five tackles and no sacks. In 2011, Maybin would then be released from the Bills, two years into his five-year deal with the team.
He bounced around from a couple of different teams including the New York Jets, and Cincinnati Bengals, and eventually found himself in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts. He would eventually finish his career with 36 tackles and six sacks.
Maybin now has turned professional artist, he is the founder of “Project Mayhem” and an author of a book called “Art Activism.” He currently teaches at his hometown elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland.
#1: 2013 Draft: EJ Manuel
Buffalo was searching for their new franchise quarterback again; however, this was not the draft to do it. This was a thin draft for quarterbacks and E.J. Manuel was the first quarterback taken off the board with the 16th overall pick to the Buffalo Bills, certainly ready to turn the tide in Buffalo. Manuel had all the great characteristics of a successful quarterback. He had a fantastic work ethic, great leadership qualities, and personality. Unfortunately, his play was not NFL-caliber.
Manuel would start ten games his rookie season, throwing for just under 2,000 yards, 11 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He never had that flash or potential that you can typically see in a rising star quarterback. He would go on to start seven games throughout the next three seasons. He was benched in favor of Kyle Orton, who had some decent games as a Buffalo Bill in his tenure there.
There never seemed to be that one game where we were impressed by Manuel. Nothing showed us that he has that flash or potential to be something great. He was always a very sub-par, mediocre quarterback
He then would be benched in favor of Tyrod Taylor the following season. EJ Manuel would sign a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders, and eventually signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. He would retire after the 2019 season.
Manuel would end his career with 3,767 passing yards, 24 total touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. His leaving the Bills would prompt yet another search for their franchise quarterback.
That is the top five worst first-round draft picks from the Buffalo Bills; however, to end on a more positive note, click here to see the top five best Bills teams in history. Thankfully, the Buffalo Bills seem to be in good now with Coach Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane calling the shots.
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