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Ch-ch-ch-changes: Bills have fewest draftees on roster in NFL

No team in the NFL has fewer of its own draft choices on its roster than the Buffalo Bills this season.

The Bills also have the least "homegrown" roster in the league, if you count draft choices and undrafted players originally signed by Buffalo.

You can guess the reason: Ch-ch-ch-changes. The revolving door that has spit out coaches and general managers at One Bills Drive the past decade has caused a non-stop roster churn.

The Bills have only 16 of their own draft choices on the team. No other team had fewer than 20 to start the season, and the league average is 27.4, based on a News review of NFL rosters. Buffalo has only 18 homegrown players. The league average is 34.6.

There are lots of ways to build a roster. Utilizing free agency, trades and the waiver wire are important. But almost all of the good teams in the league are at the league average or above in stocking the roster with their own picks.

Defending champion New England has 39 homegrown players, 29 of which are the Pats' own draft choices. New England has a habit of stockpiling draft picks – trading for extra choices - which helps keep it above the average. The Bills, of course, have done the opposite of late.

Having your own draft picks on the roster also helps financially, because players on their first contracts are cheaper.

The teams with the most "own" draft choices on their roster: Cincinnati (40), Green Bay (37), Baltimore (36), San Francisco (33), Kansas City (31) and Houston (31). The Packers, Ravens and Chiefs stand out as having among the most respected personnel departments in the league. Cincinnati's draft success has helped it make the playoffs six of the past nine years.

The bottom three: Buffalo (16), Chicago (20) and Indianapolis (21).

Where did all the Bills picks go? Other teams. Buffalo has 21 of its draft choices playing on other rosters, which is tied with Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco for most in the NFL. Ten of those former Bills were starting on Opening Day. The league average is 14 drafted players on other teams' rosters.

The Bills "ex-pats" include recently jettisoned players such as Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, Reggie Ragland and Kevon Seymour. There are prominent starters who left via free agency, including Atlanta guard Andy Levitre and Jacksonville linebacker Paul Posluszny. There are those who were unhappy in Buffalo, such as Oakland's Marshawn Lynch and Philadelphia's Jason Peters, who combined to earn three All-Pros and 13 Pro Bowl trips since leaving town. There are role players such as the Giants' Russ Cockrell and the Colts' Kamar Aiken.

If you count drafted players in the NFL overall, Buffalo's total of 37 is just a tad below the league average of 41.6. New England is at 48. Cincinnati is tops at 57.


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