By Budd Bailey
Jim Kelly of the Bills
Taken in Round 1 in 1983
The next pick: Tony Eason went next to the Patriots, and he had an odd career. He helped New England reach the Super Bowl in 1985, and they made the playoffs in 1986. But the Pats gave up on Eason in 1987, and he was never a regular again.
Other picks in the round: It was a fabled year for quarterbacks, with John Elway (No. 1 to Denver), Todd Blackledge (No. 7 to Kansas City), Ken O’Brien (No. 24 to N.Y. Jets), and Dan Marino (No. 27 to Miami). But others were good too. Eric Dickerson (No. 2 to the Rams), Jimbo Covert (No. 6 to Chicago), Bruce Matthews (No. 9 to Houston) and Darrell Green (No. 28 to Washington) all made the Hall of Fame.
The details: You know the story. The Miami (Fla.) standout first jumped to the USFL before finally arriving a few years later in 1986. Kelly’s arrival gave the Bills instant credibility around the NFL, and thus is probably the most important player in the history of the franchise. Jim was picked for five Pro Bowls in an 11-year career, and the team went 101-59 in games he started.
Other 14s: Ruben Brown (1995) made seven straight Pro Bowls as a Bill, and played 13 seasons in all. He probably deserves more Hall of Fame consideration. A neck injury cut the career of defensive back Derrick Burroughs (1985) short. Ric Seiling’s (1997) biggest problem was that he wasn’t Mike Bossy, who was taken with the next pick by the Islanders. But Seiling had eight good years as a two-way forward despite suffering an eye injury that limited his effectiveness. Injuries also were a problem for Brad May (1990), but he figured out a way to play 1,041 NHL games. Jay McKee (1995) had nine fine years as a Sabres, ranking as a solid defensive defenseman. Calle Johansson (1985) spent less than two years in Buffalo before his trade to Washington; he became one of the Caps’ most dependable defenseman for more than a decade. Kevin Haller (1989) played for six different hockey teams through 2002. Zemgus Girgensons (2012) played for the Sabres for seven straight years before sitting out the 2021 season with an injury. Pat Maddalena (1999) was a regular for three years with the Bandits, and then saw his scoring totals increase during his remaining nine seasons in the NLL.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)