There have been some ups but many downs in the Buffalo Bills NFL Draft history. They have made numerous trades to acquire the players they want, going pretty heavy on some that never panned out in Western New York. Here are 12 times the Buffalo Bills traded up in the NFL draft.
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12 Times the Bills Traded Up In the NFL Draft
1983 – Jim Kelly
The Bills traded their 1983 first-round pick and their 1984 first-round pick to the Baltimore Colts to move up to the 14th overall pick, which they used to select quarterback Jim Kelly. Kelly went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in Bills history, leading the team to four straight Super Bowl appearances.
1987 – Shane Conlan
The Bills traded their 1987 first-round pick, their 1987 third-round pick, and their 1988 second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers to move up to the eighth overall pick, which they used to select linebacker Shane Conlan. Conlan was a key player on the Bills’ defense during their Super Bowl runs in the early 1990s.
1995 – Todd Collins
The Bills traded their 1995 second-round pick and their 1996 fourth-round pick to the Green Bay Packers to move up to the 45th overall pick, which they used to select quarterback Todd Collins. Collins played for the Bills for six seasons, and started 17 games during that time.
1998 – Antowain Smith
The Bills traded their 1998 second-round pick and their 1999 third-round pick to the New England Patriots to move up to the 23rd overall pick, which they used to select running back Antowain Smith. Smith rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2000 and 2001, and was a key player on the Bills’ offense during those years.
2001 – Nate Clements
The Bills traded their 2001 second-round pick and their 2002 first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys to move up to the 21st overall pick, which they used to select cornerback Nate Clements. Clements played for the Bills for six seasons, and was one of the best cornerbacks in the league during that time.
2002 – Mike Williams
The Bills traded their 2002 first-round pick and their 2003 fourth-round pick to the Chicago Bears to move up to the fourth overall pick, which they used to select offensive tackle Mike Williams. Williams played for the Bills for three seasons, but was never able to live up to his draft status.
2004 – J.P. Losman
The Bills traded their 2004 first-round pick, their 2004 fifth-round pick, and their 2005 second-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys to move up to the 22nd overall pick, which they used to select quarterback J.P. Losman. Losman played for the Bills for five seasons, but was never able to establish himself as the team’s franchise quarterback.
2006 – Donte Whitner
The Bills traded their 2006 second-round pick, their 2006 fifth-round pick, and their 2007 fifth-round pick to the Detroit Lions to move up to the eighth overall pick, which they used to select safety Donte Whitner. Whitner played for the Bills for five seasons, and was a key player on the team’s defense during that time.
2011 – Marcell Dareus
In the 2011 Buffalo Bills NFL draft, the team made a bold move to improve their defense by trading up to select defensive tackle Marcell Dareus out of Alabama. The Bills traded their first-round pick (No. 9) and two later picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to the No. 3 overall pick, where they selected Dareus. The move paid off, as Dareus became a key player on the Bills’ defense and was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. He played for the Bills for four seasons before being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but his impact on the team’s defense during his time in Buffalo was significant.
2014 – Sammy Watkins
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills traded up to the fourth overall pick to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson. At the time, Watkins was considered one of the top prospects in the draft, with his speed and athleticism making him a potentially dominant receiver in the league.
The trade was another bold move by the Bills, who were looking to add offensive firepower to their team. While Watkins showed flashes of brilliance during his time in Buffalo, injuries and inconsistent play limited his overall impact with the team. The Bills traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.
2018 – Josh Allen
In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills traded up to the seventh overall pick to select quarterback Josh Allen from Wyoming. At the time, Allen was a highly touted prospect with an impressive arm and athletic ability, but also had concerns about his accuracy and decision-making.
The trade was a bold move by the Bills, who had been searching for a franchise quarterback for years. However, it has paid off for the team, as Josh Allen has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league and led the Bills to their first AFC Championship Game appearance in over 25 years during the 2020-2021 season.
2018 – Tremaine Edmunds
Also in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills once again traded up, this time to the 16th overall pick, to select linebacker Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech. At the time, Edmunds was seen as one of the best linebackers in the draft, with his size, speed, and athleticism making him a versatile defensive player.
The trade was seen as a smart move by the Bills, who were looking to improve their defense and add a young, talented player to their roster. Edmunds has been a key part of the Bills’ defense since his rookie season, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2019 and helping lead the team to the playoffs in the 2020-2021 season.
2022 – Kaiir Elam
The Bills traded up in the 2022 Draft to take Kaiir Elam from the Florida Gators. The pick had belonged to Baltimore, but needing a cover guy, he fit their needs. After a solid 2022 season, it’s still early to deliberate on how this one will work.
Main Photo: Karen Elgazzar – USA Today Sports