Not only is Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith the greatest draft pick ever made by the Bills (No. 1 overall in 1985 out of Virginia Tech), but he’s easily one of the five best No. 1 overall drat picks to date.
Smith is also the NFL’s greatest pass rusher, with a record-setting 200 career sacks split between Buffalo (1985-99) and the NFC East’s Washington Redskins (2000-03). Not only did Smith play for an impressive 19 NFL seasons, but he did so at an unprecedented level, making both the 1980s and the 1990s NFL All-Decade Teams.
Smith made 11 Pro Bowls (1987-90, 1992-98), nine first team All-Pro teams (1987-88, 1990, 1992-97), and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year twice in 1990 and in 1996. While the Bills of the 1990s were best known for their dynamic offensive weaponry, Buffalo still had arguably the game’s best defensive linemen for their peak years as a franchise under Levy’s leadership and general manager Bill Polian’s construction.
In the grand scheme of things, not only is Smith a top five Bill all-time, but he is without question one of the five best pass rushers –maybe even defensive players — to play in the NFL. Smith earned immediate enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he was eligible in 2009.
Outside of maybe Peyton Manning to the Indianapolis Colts, Terry Bradshaw to the Pittsburgh Steelers, or Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys, frankly no team did a better job with their No. 1 overall pick than did the Bills with their No. 1 overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft taking Smith out of Virginia Tech. Longevity and absolute soul-crushing dominance as a pass rusher makes Smith one of the greatest players to ever play football.
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