By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 18: April 9, 1985 – The Bills trade the first-round choice in the supplemental draft (Bernie Kosar) to Cleveland for Chip Banks (did not report; replaced with a first-round draft choice in 1985), a third-round draft choice in 1985 (Hal Garner), a first-round draft choice in 1986 (Ronnie Harmon) , and a sixth-round draft choice in 1986 (Floyd Dixon).
Bernie Kosar was one of the top quarterbacks in college football in 1983 and 1984, leading Miami to national prominence. The Ohio native had finished his undergraduate studies, and was ready to turn pro – but he wanted to do it so that he could play for the Cleveland Browns. Kosar needed to find a loophole in the rules that would allow such a transaction, and the Bills and Browns found one.
The Bills had the first overall draft pick in 1985, which also meant that they had the first pick in the supplemental draft later that summer. The latter is a draft for players in special circumstances, such as those who graduate from college and decide to turn pro after the regular draft. Usually it is a footnote on the football calendar. If the top pick overall was used in the summer of 1985, the Bills had to give up their first-round pick in 1986.
Cleveland came up with a suitable offer – standout linebacker Chip Banks and four draft choices – and then took Kosar first in the supplemental draft. The Browns and Kosar were thrilled, and the two had several memorable seasons together. Banks refused to report to the Bills and was sent back to the Browns for a first-round pick. While the names in the deal weren’t standouts, they did free up Buffalo to select players such as Andre Reed and Frank Reich in the 1985 draft. Essentially, the Bills had turned something relatively worthless into some pieces that became part of their rebuilding plan.
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