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)