Linebacker: Rueben Foster, Alabama
Drafting Foster could help address another significant need on defense at linebacker. Lorenzo Alexander and Preston Brown are the only remaining starters from 2016 left on the Bills roster. Foster could bring the speed and overall total package at linebacker, the Luke Kuechly type player Coach McDermott is looking for.
Foster is listed as an inside linebacker, but he could shift outside with his speed and coverage skills.
If all goes well you could see a solid linebacking core of Rueben Foster, Preston Brown, Reggie Ragland and Lorenzo Alexander. Combine that with a more player friendly scheme and there could be a big improvement on the defensive side of the ball that needs to see better pass and run coverage from the linebacker position.
Cornerback: Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
The Buffalo Bills have a severe need at cornerback. As of right now, Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour are penciled in as the starting corners after losing Stephon Gilmore to free agency. Darby is coming off a disappointing season in 2016, but a new defensive scheme could be beneficial to him.
Seymour showed some potential when he saw some starting time in 2016, which was his rookie season.
If the Bills draft Marlon Humphrey — providing he is still available — he could be an instant starter alongside Darby, with Seymour gaining more experience in the slot. With Ronald Darby having the most experience going into his third season, this would be a pretty young group of cornerbacks.
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There has been a big shake-up in the defensive backfield this off-season with Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour being the remaining two players who saw consistent playing time for the Bills in 2016.
A new defensive scheme could also be beneficial to the secondary and help with the progression of these young players.
Coach McDermott has said he believes in molding his scheme to fit his player’s strengths, pretty much the total opposite of what Rex Ryan was trying to do which was trying to make the players fit his scheme. A more player-friendly scheme could get the defense playing back to the caliber they were a few years ago under Jim Schwartz.
Many believe it was the defense that kept the Bills out of the playoffs in 2016 and the evidence is there to prove it.
The Bills need a big improvement on defense if they want to have any chance in competing for the division against the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, who added a deep threat in Brandin Cooks to an already dangerous offense. The Miami Dolphins also pose a threat, coming off a playoff season in 2016, in which they swept the Bills and had over 200 yards rushing in both games.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the offensive tackle and tight end positions in this draft.