By Budd Bailey
No. 40 – Thurman Thomas of the Bills
Taken in Round 2 in 1988.
The next pick: Dallas grabbed linebacker Ken Norton Jr. at pick No. 41, and he was a starter for 12 of his 13 seasons for the Cowboys and 49ers.
Other picks in the round: A total of 19 players from the round appeared in at least 100 games. There were two Hall of Famers among them – Thomas and center Dermontti Dawson of the Steelers. Ex-Bill Chris Spielman went at No. 29, and some of the other famous names were Eric Allen of the Eagles, Ickey Woods of the Bengals, Jumbo Elliott of the Giants, Vincent Brown of the Patriots, Fred Strickland of the Rams, Brian Blades of the Seahawks, Michael Dean Perry of the Browns, and Brett Perriman of the Saints.
The details: There were questions about Thomas entering the draft due to a knee injury. When he was finally taken by the Bills, the TV cameras showed a man with a chip on his shoulder. It didn’t take him long to become the best all-around running back in Bills history. He had eight straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, caught as many as 62 passes in a season, and was picked for five straight Pro Bowls.
He got away: Since Thomas was in a class by himself as a player, it’s only fitting that he’s the only significant Buffalo player to be taken at No. 40. The Bills drafted Dave Simmons in that spot in 1965, but he signed with the Cardinals. The linebacker was a reserve with three teams in a four-year career.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)