With the 2021 NFL Draft now just over a week away, the Buffalo Bills will be on the clock to select a player to address their needs and one of the top needs is the cornerback position.
During the 2020 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills allowed on average 232.7 passing yards per game. While this number is not a huge cause for concern, it is miles away from the league’s best secondary in the Los Angeles Rams with only 190.7 yards allowed per game. As a result, Buffalo can use the draft to help bolster the position as the team was not able to sign any big-name free agents and only brought back their own in Levi Wallace.
With Wallace returning to Buffalo in the form of a one-year deal, the franchise is keeping the door open at the CB2 position. While Wallace has had a productive career in a Bills’ uniform, it is no match for his counterpart in Tre’Davious White. With White being as close to a lock-down defender, be it in zone or man coverage, Wallace has seen an uptick in targets.
While Wallace has stepped up to the plate and proved that he can be a starting corner in the NFL, the youth and talent coming out of this year’s draft class looks promising enough to see a rookie fill Wallace’s roster spot. While this may not necessarily be this season, as Wallace and nickel corner, Taron Johnson, are both under contract, we have seen rookies be able to step in and play more recently.
At 30th overall, there are two potential prospects that may be available for Buffalo when they’re on the clock: Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley and Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. Both Farley and Samuel would be an upgrade over Wallace just on the potential factor alone. Be it that Wallace has been in the NFL for three seasons now and and produced relatively similar seasons when starting (two interceptions and over seven defended passes), Wallace is, more or less, what he is.
As a result of that, the temptation of the unknown of if Farley or Samuel could play Week 1 and leapfrog Wallace for that second starting corner position could be the reason the Buffalo Bills selects a corner. Additionally, the selection of a corner would give Buffalo more depth at the position. This would be good enough motivator as last season saw Buffalo’s depth be tested with the injuries to Josh Norman and Wallace.
If both Farley and Samuel are there at 30, the Buffalo Bills could not go wrong with either of them.
The 21-year old Samuel Jr. is comes into the draft having a solid season with Florida State in during all-ACC schedule. During his 2020 season, he registered three interceptions, six defended passes and 30 total tackles. Farley, on the other hand, did not record and stats during the 2020 season as he opted to sit out the campaign. The choice not to play was one Farley felt ease in making.
After losing his mother to breast cancer in 2018, Farley made the tough but responsible decision not to put his father, Robert, at risk for COVID-19 and having another family member fall ill. As a result, Farley’s 2019 numbers are his most recent, recording four interceptions, 12 defended passes and 20 total tackles.
Another blip on Farley is his medical history. The 22-year old was unable to participate in Virginia Tech’s Pro Day due to a lingering back injury sustained in 2019-which may have played a factor in his opt-out decision as well- and suffered a torn ACL in 2017.
Whoever the Buffalo Bills decide to select at the 30th overall pick, if they do in fact stay put, there is a real case for that player to be a cornerback. While Buffalo has not had the elite pass rush they have been known for in the past, defensive secondary should be a top priority. As the league moves away from the ‘ground and pound’ and towards vertical route concepts, selecting a cornerback to help bolster an already playoff-caliber team would make them that much better.