By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 69: April 2, 1976 – The 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)