Leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, Buffalobills.com will be sharing the memories of some of the Bills most memorable draft choices as we ask you the fan to pick your top 10 all-time draft choices in team history. Was it a choice of incomparable value? Was it the top pick in the draft? Was it a pick that far exceeded anyone’s expectations? Those choices are up to you the fan, and they can be made at the Buffalo Bills all-time draft site between now and April 22nd.
He was a Division II prospect from Kutztown State, but Andre Reed was on the radar of most NFL scouts by his junior year. As is usually the case some teams showed more interest than others, and naturally Reed believed he would most likely be picked by one of those “interested” clubs. Little did he know that the last NFL team to work him out before the 1985 draft would be the one that would select him with the second pick in round four.
“I thought I was going to be picked by Dallas or Denver,” said Reed. “Tom Landry was still coaching the Cowboys and one of their representatives contacted me and Denver did the same. I remember the Seahawks came and saw me too. It was a really exciting time. Here a kid from a small school in Kutztown, Pennsylvania was elevated and went from a small kid to a grown-up in a matter of weeks.”
With scouts from the Cowboys and Broncos being among the first teams to work him out and make return visits as well, Reed was virtually convinced that he’d be playing for one of those two clubs come September. Still a slew of other NFL clubs arrived in Kutztown to work Reed out.
Then about a couple of weeks prior to the draft the Buffalo Bills sent a scout to put the Division II receiver through the paces.
“Due to the fact that it was so close to the draft I didn’t pay the Bills much mind because Dallas and Denver were the two teams that came back more than twice to see me and work me out,” Reed said. “I was running 40’s and shuttles for the Bills. I really didn’t think they were really serious about picking me. They had two good receivers at the time. Jerry Butler was still there, Preston Dennard and Byron Franklin.”
When draft day arrived on April 30 Reed spent the morning at school before heading back home to be with his family.
“My agent at that time Jack Wirth had told me to be by a phone and thought home would be the best place,” said Reed. “My family was really excited about it.”
Reed along with his family and a handful of friends watched the draft unfold on ESPN. His agent had told him he was expected to come off the board anywhere between rounds three and five.
“At that time the draft was 12 rounds, so a kid from a small school going in rounds three to five was pretty good,” said Reed. “There weren’t many Division II players going in the first four or five rounds.”
As round three came to a close so did ESPN’s coverage of the draft and Reed was still waiting for a phone call. Buffalo was still the furthest team from his mind, especially since they had drafted wide receiver Chris Burkett in round two with the 42nd overall selection.
“About 10 minutes later the phone rang,” said Reed. “It was Bills GM Terry Bledsoe. He just told me they picked me and congratulated me and I said, ‘Okay, first of all, where’s Buffalo?’ And I heard the whole draft room laugh at that. I didn’t know where Buffalo, New York was. I didn’t know if it was near New York City or whatever. It wasn’t until later that I knew it was by a lake and there would be a hell of a lot of snow happening.”
Reed actually went to his local library after being drafted to find out exactly where Buffalo was located in New York State.
Before the draft was over Buffalo would take another receiver in round five.
“It’s funny that they picked three receivers in the first five rounds, in Chris Burkett and myself and Jimmy Teal out of Texas A&M,” said Reed. “We were coming in with high expectations with them picking three receivers. At that time the Bills were a rebuilding team and they were coming off two pretty dismal seasons and they wanted to make some changes. They thought one way to go about it was to start at the skill positions. We had all the chances we could to make the team and be contributors.”
Coming from a Division II program, Reed’s only question was if he had what it took to be a successful player in the NFL.
“I was wondering if I could compete with guys from bigger schools,” he said. “They knew I had the talent, but could I elevate myself to the NFL level?”
Fifteen NFL seasons later Reed would be the all-time leading receiver in team history, help propel the team to four consecutive AFC titles and play more games in a Buffalo uniform than any other player in club annals (221).
“The Bills were a surprise on draft day,” said Reed. “But it was the start of good things to come.”