Even though I grew up in the 90’s during the time when Bruce Smith recorded seven straight seasons with at least 10.0 sacks, I was not one to stand up and defend my knowledge of football. The first names that I remember being Defensive Ends as Buffalo Bills players, are Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel. These two were solid defensive ends and I was sad to see them go. When going through Buffalo Bills defensive statistics to select my pick, the numbers spoke for themselves.
Bruce Smith averaged 11.4 sacks each of his fifteen seasons as a member of the Buffalo Bills. He failed to reach 10+ sacks, only three times for the Bills. Schobel averaged 8.6 sacks per season, recording 10+ sacks, four times in his nine seasons.
From looking at these statistics, and remembering what it was like to watch the Schobel/Kelsay duo, the dominance of Smith became clear. I had seen Kelsay and Schobel make some extremely athletic plays for many years. Specifically, I remember the Thursday night end zone interception for a score by Kelsay against the Dallas Cowboys. But Smith just could not be stopped, year in and year out. The way that teams these days prepare to stop Mario Williams, is the way that opponents attempted to stop Smith. I wish that I could have been more in tune with the football world at that time.
Smith averaged just below 63 tackles (solo) per season with the Bills. I began searching through 2013 NFL Defensive statistics on ESPN.com (sacks leaders). When filtering tackles, I noticed hardly any defensive ends were on the list. I filtered through sacks for convenience and there was only one other defensive end on the list that had more than 60 individual tackles. This player was J.J. Watt from the Houston Texans. With the line that the Bills had in 2013, add a player like Watt and I don’t think they could be stopped. Now I know that a defensive end may not be at the top of the draft ‘Needs’ list, but imagine what kind of defense the Buffalo Bills would have in 2014 if they landed a player equivalent to Bruce Smith?