1. CBS Sports picks this Bills Legend as one of the top overall picks in NFL History
For the past 31 days, the NFL writers at CBS Sports have been ranking the best NFL Draft picks ever as a countdown to the NFL Draft. With the 2021 Draft just one day away, John Breech ranked the top-five number one overall picks in NFL History. Coming in at number three on his list was the Bills first overall pick in 1985 – Bruce Smith. The only other two players ahead of Smith on this list are John Elway and Peyton Manning.
1985 NFL Draft: First overall pick (Bills)
Teams: Bills (1985-99), Washington (2000-03)
When the Buffalo Bills decided to take Bruce Smith with the first overall pick in 1985, it was somewhat of a gamble and that’s because there hadn’t been a great track record of success in the NFL with defensive ends selected in the top 10. Fortunately for the Bills, the gamble paid off and they ended up landing one of the best defensive players in NFL history.
Although Smith’s career got off to a slow start in 1985, he would dominate the NFL after that. In the 13 seasons from 1986 to 1998, Smith hit the double-digit sack mark a total of 12 times and the only reason he didn’t make it a perfect 13 is because he missed 11 games in 1991 due to a knee injury. In 1987, Smith tallied 12 sacks even though he only played in 12 games. The next year, he totaled 11 sacks even though he once again missed four games. Smith’s productivity got people wondering what he might do if he could stay on the field for all 16 games, and in 1990, everyone found out the answer to that question. In a season that ended with the Bills in the Super Bowl, Smith led the NFL with 19 sacks, which is still one of the highest single-season totals in NFL history. The season ended with Smith winning one of his two career defensive player of the year awards.
Over the course of his career, Smith would rack up exactly 200 sacks, which is still the NFL career record for sacks. To give you an idea of how dominant that number is, just consider this: Only ONE other NFL player ever even has more than 160 sacks (Reggie White finished his career with 198). In an era where the Bills K-Gun offense made all the headlines, Smith anchored a defense that helped propel Buffalo to four straight Super Bowls.