By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

No. 69: April 2, 1976The Bills trade Walt Patulski to St. Louis for a second-round draft choice in 1976 (Joe Devlin.).

The title of “first overall draft choice” carries a lot of pressure. The Bills took Walt Patulski first out of Notre Dame in 1972. The big defensive end immediately found a spot in the starting lineup, and led the Bills in sacks during his rookie season.

Patulski stayed for three more seasons after that. He usually was in the starting lineup, but he never was a standout. To be fair, 1972 wasn’t a great year for top talent in the draft. That led to a trade with the Cardinals, where he spent most of the 1976 season as a reserve. Interestingly, Patulski had trouble getting along with Bills coach Lou Saban, and after the trade Patulski supposedly never talked to his ex-coach again. The lineman hurt his knee in 1976, and his career was over.

The deal represented an attempt to get something for that first pick, and the Bills did very well under the circumstances. Joe Devlin was a solid offensive tackle. It took him a year to get into the starting lineup, but when he did he stayed for a while. Devlin started his last 177 games as a Bill from 1977 through 1989.

(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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