The 2009 draft in my opinion could have been the turning point in recent Bills history if it wasn’t for one crucial mistake. Aaron Maybin.
The Bills needed to address three issues after the 2008 season. Pass rush, coverage and offensive line. With their first four picks they covered three of these issues, those being coverage by drafting Jarius Byrd and o-line by drafting Andy Levitre and Eric Wood. But with the number 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft the Buffalo Bills took an absolute flop. They drafted an undersized DE out of Penn State who had only played a total of 10 Division I football games.
Like most draft busts in the NFL the most grueling part of a wasted pick isn’t who you wasted it on but more importantly who you could have selected. In this particular case, taken two picks after the Bills was pro bowl, pass rushing specialist Brian Orakpo. Or even better taken later in the first round was the Packers pride and joy Clay Matthews, also a pro bowler and a defensive player of the year. Yeah, imagine those guys in red, white, and blue eating opposing quarterbacks alive for the last five years.
Are you going tell me the Bills wouldn’t be in the playoffs by now had we not built that solid foundation. Maybe the Bills don’t over pay for guys like Mario Williams because he wants to play with a new up in comer in Buffalo. Despite 2009 being a pretty good draft year for the Bills, fans still have not forgiven Russ Brandon for this pick when he was the de-facto GM after Marv Levy retired. In my opinion Russ made this move out of desperation for a home run pick. Russ needed to prove that he had that special eye for talent that so few have. Maybe he was channeling his inner Bill Polian when he took a chance on Aaron thinking that if it turned out right then he would look like a genius. Only problem is Mr. Brandon doesn’t have this keen eye for hidden talent and he should have gone with the safe pick like Orakpo because had he done that, then the Bills wouldn’t had to have put up with the likes of Aaron Maybin, the worst pick in the history of the Bills.
Fortunately Russ Brandon was kicked upstairs to run the business side of the Bills and Doug Whaley is now calling the shots regarding player personnel and the draft.