The countdown to training camp is on, and the summer workouts are closer than you may think. With no official date set as of Wednesday, it's likely that camp will begin in two months, or maybe even less.
The Bills still have one more week of Organized Team Activities and the three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June, but that's all that's separating them from the start of a brand new campaign. And with a new head coach and general manager, there have been wholesale changes up and down the roster.
As we begin to get closer to training camp, WKBW.com will take an enhanced look at the roster, and who you need to know about as we get closer to late July.
First, we looked at running backs, but next, we'll examine a position with far more questions than answers: cornerback.
A look at how the corners stack up as of now:
- This is not as clear cut as some other positions out there, but considering the lack of experience that the cornerback group seems to be rife with, Darby gets the nod as the top guy at the position as of today. The former second-round pick showed a lot of promise as a man-to-man cover corner during the 2015 season but failed to live up to expectations in the same defense last year. Now, the third-year cornerback has to show he has what it takes to flourish in an entirely different system that is predicated on zone coverages. What he does have working in his favor: he's a strong tackler, and that will go far in Sean McDermott's scheme. It would take a pretty steep fall in performance, or an injury, for him to not start the season as one of the main cornerbacks -- given the rest of the depth at the position.
Fighting for Starts
Tre'Davious White, Kevon Seymour
- Given what Sean McDermott did in Carolina last season with starting young players at cornerback, there's a strong chance that Tre'Davious White ends up as the other starting cornerback along with Darby. The first-round pick and the rookie player has the size and long limbs that McDermott craves in his starting cornerbacks, which is also what gives him a decided advantage over second-year player Kevon Seymour. While Seymour did show some nice things in the summer of 2016, he'll have to prove he can do it again in an entirely different defense -- and he could be the main competitor for White. The worry with Seymour, though, is his lack of size and length for the position. Plus, White is a better tackler than Seymour, so that gives him another advantage in the race. Seymour could wind up finding a home at nickel.
Don't Sleep On
- However, don't expect Seymour to just be handed the job at nickel. That's where our 'Don't Sleep On' candidate comes into play: Leonard Johnson. The former Buccaneers and Panthers player, Johnson has familiarity with Sean McDermott's system and has even worked with the first-team during OTAs as the nickel corner -- over the likes of Seymour. The 27-year-old Johnson appeared in 10 games for McDermott last season, so there is at least a trust level there. He did not grade well with ProFootballFocus.com, being rated eighth-worst qualifying cornerback in the NFL in 2016. Still, there is a clear opportunity for him to win a job this summer, and that fact cannot be ignored.
Shareece Wright, Charles James, Bradley Sylve, Marcus Sayles
- Like Johnson, Shareece Wright struggled in 2016, but his advantage is familiarity with now Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Without a lot of depth to speak of, Wright has a solid opportunity to hang on as the fourth or fifth cornerback on the roster. Charles James has gotten some time with the second-team, and even Bradley Sylve has as well, but this may end up being a position that only keeps five players. Considering the versatility of safety Micah Hyde, it could necessitate the Bills waving goodbye to three of their eight rostered cornerbacks this summer. The fifth position -- and maybe even the fourth if Leonard Johnson doesn't perform well this summer -- is completely up for grabs. All that said, the cornerback group is an unproven one and could flop altogether, but it's also a unit that has potential to be one of the stronger spots on the roster.