By Budd Bailey
Willis McGahee of the Bills
Taken in Round 1 in 2003
The next pick: Dallas Clark worked out well for the Colts. The tight end stayed for nine years, and caught 100 passes in the 2009 season alone. Clark finished his career with 505 catches.
Other picks in the round: The discussion starts with Carson Palmer, who went No. 1 with the Bengals and was a good choice. Andre Johnson (No. 3 to Houston) caught more than 1,000 passes. Terrell Suggs (No. 10 to Baltimore) played in seven Pro Bowls. Troy Polamalu (No. 16 to Pittsburgh) already is in the Hall of Fame. Mark Pysyk (2010) couldn’t quite hold on to a starting job with the Sabres. He was traded to Florida and found a home for four years, and now is with Dallas.
The details: McGahee might be the most surprising draft pick in Bills history. He had suffered a severe knee injury at the end of his college career, and everyone knew that he would have to sit out his first season with the pros. The Bills took a big gamble that he could completely recover. Once McGahee got on the field, he produced. He ran up 3,365 yards in three seasons with 21 touchdowns. But he wore out his welcome to some extent with some comments about the city, and the Bills traded him to Baltimore for draft picks. Willis had two more 1,000-yard seasons, but it could be argued that he didn’t quite live up to his potential.
Other 23s: McGahee or Antoine Winfield? It’s one of the toughest calls of this series of articles. Winfield was a reserve as a rookie in 1999, and then started for most of the next four seasons. He signed a rich deal with the Vikings as a free agent. Antowain Smith had two good seasons in Buffalo but fell out of favor before moving on to New England in 2001. Mike Hasen played most of four seasons with the Bandits. He moved on to Rochester for a long tenure as a player and then as a coach.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)