By Budd Bailey

Fred Smerlas of the Bills

Taken in Round 2 in 1979

The next pick: Greg Roberts went to Tampa Bay at No. 33. He was the Outland Trophy winner at Oklahoma as the nation’s best interior lineman. Greg spent four years with the Bucs and finished his football career with Memphis of the USFL.

Other picks in that round: You can look up Jim Haslett at No. 51 for details of that round. It’s interesting that Mike Stensrud was taken by the Oilers in the pick before Smerlas. The nose tackle wasn’t bad  – playing 11 seasons in the NFL – but he was no Smerlas.

The details: It took a season, but eventually Smerlas was a fixture of the Buffalo defense in the 1980s. He started 150 games in that decade, only missing four games in 1987. Fred unluckily missed the glory days of the Bills, as he finished his career with San Francisco and New England. Smerlas was named to five Pro Bowl teams.

Other 32s: Lindy Ruff has a case for this number, particularly if his contributions as a coach factor into the debate. Ruff played left wing and defense during his career in Buffalo, which encompassed most of the 1980s as well. Derek Roy is in the argument too after nine good years in Bufalo between 2003 and 2012. Tony McKegney had five good seasons in Buffalo, and then played for six other teams through 1991. Defensive lineman Dee Hardison spent three seasons as a reserve in Buffalo, and stayed in the NFL for eight more years.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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