The 2016 NFL draft is 39 days away. Who have the Buffalo Bills drafted at pick 39?
Buffalo has drafted two linebackers at pick 39. Here’s a look at the former Bills draft picks.
Sam Cowart, LB, Florida State (1998)
Cowart looked like a superstar in the making in his first three seasons with the Bills. The linebacker started in 11 games as a rookie and recorded 72 total tackles, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
In his second season, Cowart was a 16 game starter at the linebacker position. His combined tackles total jumped to 125 and Cowart recorded his first career sack while added a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
In 2000, Cowart’s third season, the linebacker’s play rose to a new level. In 12 games, Cowart recorded 129 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble. His season ended after 12 games due to a serious ankle injury, but Cowart was named an All-Pro that season and was also named to the Pro Bowl.
The 2001 season was Cowart’s last year with Buffalo. He started in the season opener but suffered an ACL injury.
From 2002-2004, Cowart started in 33 games with the Jets. He was a 16 game starter in 2002, one year after suffering the ACL injury. He recorded 292 total tackles in his three seasons in New York and added four sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Cowart spent his final season in the NFL in 2005 with the Minnesota Vikings. He had 85 total tackles, two sacks, and two passes defensed in 14 starts.
Cowart had a very good NFL career, but you can’t help but wonder what his career would have looked like if he didn’t suffer an ACL injury in 2001.
Darryl Talley, LB, West Virginia (1983)
Although I try to keep these articles to facts and stats, Darryl Talley was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to watch football as a child. The linebacker played like his hair was on fire at all times and made plays everywhere on the field. As a child, the first thing that you’d notice about Talley were his Spiderman sleeves. Although he was on the field with other superstars with the Bills, Talley stood out as he looked, and played, like a superhero.
Talley came onto the scene in 1983 and recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles in 16 games played. He continued to improve on the field yearly and by the late 80s, Talley was one of the league’s best linebackers. In 1990 and 1991, Talley was named to back-to-back Pro Bowls. He was also named to two All-Pro teams (1990, 1993) in his career and was a member of all four Bills Super Bowl teams.
Until the final season of Talley’s Bills career, he recorded at least one sack in every season. He finished his Bills career with 38.5 sacks. Among Bills linebackers, only Cornelius Bennett, Talley’s teammate, finished with more career sacks with Buffalo.
In terms of tackles, no Bills player has more than Talley’s 1,095 tackles per Pro Football Reference. The linebacker finished his Bills tenure with 160 starts in 188 games played. In addition to his tackle and sack totals, Talley also recorded 11 career interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns, 14 forced fumbles, and 12 fumble recoveries.
Talley spent one season with the Vikings and one season with the Falcons after his tenure with the Bills ended.
Despite there being many stars on Buffalo’s defense, Talley was the heart and soul of that unit. Talley had a career worthy of the Hall of Fame. Although he hasn’t had his name called to Canton, the linebacker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Talley was named to Buffalo’s Wall of Fame in 2003.
Since his retirement, Talley’s mental and physical health has been on the decline. Darryl’s wife, Janine, recently wrote about Talley’s daily struggles here: Real Life Delivers More Hits Than Concussion Movie Portrays. It’s a must-read for any Bills fan, Talley fan, or NFL fan.