By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

This is the fourth straight “summer” that I’ve done a good-sized research project for Buffalo Sports Page. You might remember the ones on uniform numbers, biggest trades, and free agents.

I wasn’t sure what the fourth act of this idea would be, but then someone from The Athletic did an article on draft choices by overall pick number. It didn’t take much of a leap in imagination to come up a local variation of that idea.

Therefore, I’ll be offering a look at Buffalo’s entire draft history, one draft pick (by number) at a time. In other words, who was the best player ever taken first overall by a Buffalo-based team? Who was the best No. 2? We’ll go through the list in reverse order, every other day for the next 200 days.

There are a few ground rules here. Buffalo’s pro sports teams all are covered here. That means you’ll see the Bills, Sabres, Braves, Bandits, WNY Flash and Beauts under consideration. The Arena Football League didn’t really have a draft when the Buffalo Destroyers were around, and I’m not going to count draft choices who passed through Buffalo in playing for the Bisons before they reached the majors.

The toughest part, especially in the 80s and 90s, is picking the player who made the biggest impact on his team. This is almost entirely about how someone performed with a variation of “Buffalo” on the jersey, but although others will be examined as something of a “what if?”

I was happy to discover that someone was taken in every spot numerically from 1 to 100. But first, let’s look at the picks who didn’t crack the top 100 on draft day, but turned out to be memorable for one reason or another. As you can imagine, there are only Bills and Sabres on this list because their leagues had the longest draft.

No. 104 – Randy Smith of the Braves and Marcus Foligno of the Sabres.
No. 107 – Donnie Green of the Bills.
No. 108 – Yuri Khmylev of the Sabres.
No. 111 – Terrance McGee of the Bills.
No. 124 – Brian Holzinger of the Sabres.
No. 128 – John Kidd and Gabriel Davis of the Bills.
No. 132 – Tom Sestak of the Bills.
No. 133 – Kyle Williams of the Bills and Christian Ruuttu of the Sabres.
No. 138 – Ryan Miller of the Sabres.
No. 141 – Haygood Clarke of the Bills.
No. 156 – Brian Campbell of the Sabres.
No. 160 – Bob Chandler of the Bills.
No. 161 – Derek Plante of the Sabres.
No. 163 – Matt Milano of the Bills and Linus Ullmark of the Sabres.
No. 164 – Ales Kotalik of the Sabres.
No. 168 – Derek Smith of the Sabres.
No. 171 – Gary Anderson of the Bills and Nathan Peterman of the Bills.
No. 176 – Patrick Kaleta of the Sabres.
No. 178 – Mark Pike of the Bills.
No. 181 – Victor Olofsson of the Sabres.
No. 183 – Donald Audette and Taro Tsujimoto of the Sabres.
No. 188 – Daryle Lamonica of the Bills.
No. 192 – James Harris of the Bills.
No. 199 – Bob Kalsu of the Bills.
No. 213 – Jeff Wright of the Bills.
No. 214 – Uwe Krupp of the Sabres.
No. 220 – Paul Gaustad of the Sabres.
No. 224 – Stevie Johnson of the Bills.
No. 227 – Keith McKeller of the Bills.
No. 235 – Carlson Bailey of the Bills.
No. 244 – Jay Riemersma of the Bills.
No. 253 – Roland Hooks of the Bills.
No. 255 – Will Grant of the Bills.
No. 265 – Mike Lodish of the Bills.
No. 283 – Howard Ballard of the Bills.
No. 309 – Charles Romes of the Bills.
No. 336 – Dan Darragh of the Bills.

Footnote: The last name of interest numerically that I found was John Stearns – No. 423 of the Bills in 1973. He was a safety from Colorado who also played baseball, and he was the second overall pick by the Phillies. Stearns ended up playing catcher for 10 years with the New York Mets.

Let’s get to work with No. 100. See you in two days.

(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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