On Tuesday morning, we went through the exercise that outlined what Sean McDermott’s teams of the past 18 years have done in the draft and came to the conclusion that selecting a defensive back in the first round is more of an anomaly than it is a regularity.
You can see it for yourself, only in 18 years, McDermott’s teams have only selected a defensive back in the first round once.
So, if that, in fact, shifts a need for a defensive back to Day Two of the 2017 NFL Draft, I wanted to take a look and familiarize you all with some cornerbacks I believe the Bills could target.
And I have to give credit where credit is due.
It wasn’t until last week’s Bills Beat Podcast with special guest co-host Matthew Fairburn of NYUpstate.com when he indicated that McDermott has a “type” for his cornerbacks — and he’s absolutely right.
When it comes to the boundary cornerbacks, it’s clear what McDermott looks for in his cornerbacks. They need the height, they need the weight, they need to be able to tackle well, they don’t have to necessarily run all that fast in the 40-yard dash, and they have to be long-limbed.
Look at Carolina’s draft last year, when the Panthers selected a cornerback in both the second and third rounds. The measurements on both of them:
Round 2: James Bradberry, 6-foot-1, 211-pounds, 4.5 40-yard dash, 33-and-3/8-inch arms
Round 3: Daryl Worley, 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, 4.64 40-yard dash, 33-and-3/8-inch arms
With due respect, there are a few that fit the McDermott mold that likely will not be around at 44th overall — which include Ohio State’s Gareon Conley and Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey.
Working in the second-tier of cornerbacks, here are five players they could target on Day Two:
1) Quincy Wilson, Florida
Measurements: 6-foot-1, 211-pounds, 4.54 40-yard dash, 32-and-1/4-inch arms
- I’ll start this by saying that I think there is a low possibility that Quincy Wilson will actually be there at 44th overall. He can translate to either a man or zone defense, and considering how hard he competes in every game, I think some team would fall in love with him before then. But, in the NFL Draft, never say never. Wilson is a perfect fit for McDermott’s zone defense. He attacks the ball carrier as a tackler — though he can probably stand to get better at it. He also has a great feel for a zone defense and has a pro-ready build to step in and start right away.
2) Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
Measurements: 6-foot-1, 199-pounds, 4.4 40-yard dash, 32-and-1/4-inch arms
- Though a solid 12 pounds lighter than Wilson, Tankersley packs a punch as a strong tackling cornerback that in all likelihood will be available at 44th overall. He is extremely proficient in zone coverage and explodes to the football from afar to break up a play. He shows great ball skills, which is a definite plus for what McDermott wants to happen on the boundaries. He’s as strong a tackler in this cornerback class as you’ll find, at least in my opinion. He has a little stiffness in his hips, which is what will cause him to drop a bit, but those fears can be erased a bit based on the scheme he would play in Buffalo. Plus, his nickname is ‘Tootie,’ for gosh sake. Tootie Tankersley, along with his playing style, would become a fan favorite in a hurry.
3) Rasul Douglas, West Virginia
Measurements: 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, 4.59 40-yard dash, 32-and-3/8-inch arms
- The Carolina Panthers just spent a third-round pick on Daryl Worley out of West Virginia in 2016, and Rasul Douglas is cut from the same cloth. He’s got the size and length that McDermott covets with his cornerbacks, and is a big hitter when he gets a hat on the ball carrier. This is just me, but I prefer Tankersley to Douglas merely because of the ball skills, though there isn’t much separating the two of them. Douglas also has a great feel for a zone defense and can be disruptive to a passing attack by using his long limbs to get a fingertip or two on the football to force incompletions. I would not be surprised to see Douglas be the pick at 44th overall.
4) Teez Tabor, Florida
Measurements: 6-feet, 199-pounds, 4.62 40-yard dash, 32-inch arms
- A lot has been made about Tabor’s timed speed at the NFL Combine in the 40-yard dash because some were viewing him as a potential first-round, man-cover cornerback early on in the process. What the 40-yard dash does not negate, however, is how good he is at taking away the football. He presents great instincts and has the ability to get himself into a play to help thwart the offense’s attempt. That said, he does need to get better as a tackler, which he has to do to get on the field for McDermott. However, he’s a zone-ready corner with fantastic ball skills — and the height and long arms to go along with it.
5) Brian Allen, Utah
Measurements: 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, 4.48 40-yard dash, 34-inch arms
- This name might be one you don’t see all that often in terms of Day Two prospects. However, when Carolina selected both Bradberry and Worley, each was considered a ‘reach’ for the round they were selected. With Utah’s Brian Allen, there is a lot more projection than there is the ready-to-go ability with this pick. Perhaps the Bills try and package two of their fifth-round picks to get into the fourth round to get him, but he is a raw prototype of what they look for. Of the top 20 cornerback prospects, only two come close to Allen’s 34-inch arm length: Ohio State’s Gareon Conley and Colorado’s Ahkello Witherspoon — whose arms both measure a full inch shorter than Allen’s. Allen has Seattle and, now, Buffalo written all over him, so some team is probably going have to act sooner rather than later if they want him.