(WGR 550) -- When the secondary was fully healthy for the Buffalo Bills, they boasted the best pair of playmaking safeties they’ve had in quite some time. The combination of Aaron Williams and Jairus Byrd provided eight interceptions for the Bills last season, but for 2014, half of that duo is gone.
Byrd left the team as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the New Orleans Saints and now the Bills have a void in the starting lineup. Could a safety be in the plans in the 2014 NFL Draft?
What they have Starters: Aaron Williams, TBD Reserves: Duke Williams, Corey Graham, Da’Norris Searcy, Jonathan Meeks, Jajuan Harley
What they need
- After Jairus Byrd signed his mega-deal in New Orleans, it leaves Aaron Williams as the point man of a secondary that saw an ample amount of strong play from their safeties in 2013. The Bills made a substantial financial commitment to Williams for the longterm thinking that he has yet to reach his potential at the position.
He isn’t the problem by any means, however. As it currently stands, the Bills have a big, bold question mark hovering over their second starting safety position. The drop-off from Byrd to whomever ends up starting the season for the Bills will be quite evident when 2014 gets underway, but the team looks at their roster in a different light.
A favorite of the Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey era, Da’Norris Searcy still resides on the roster heading into the final season of his rookie deal. Then in 2013, the Bills drafted two safeties in Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks for positional depth.
Perhaps adding a new layer, the team also signed free agent defensive back Corey Graham in the offseason. To this point Graham has been mostly known as a cornerback during his career, but the Bills mentioned publicly that he may factor into the safety discussion.
There’s little doubt that a second safety is needed to step up and take the reins of the starting position. The depth is not the problem, only the lack of a true starter as it’s currently constructed.
How will they do it?
- While some may look at safety as a dark horse position for the Bills to address within the first few rounds of the draft, there is a very real possibility that they look at it as just a training camp battle that needs to unfold in July and August. Although unproven, the organization appears to be optimistic about the prospects of the former fourth-round pick Duke Williams in addition to free agent acquisition Corey Graham, who can offer versatility as a utility player for the secondary. The key with this group will likely be with the sub-packages they trot out there from play to play. Without a true starter selecting a safety can’t be ruled out completely, but the competition already on the roster in concert with more pressing needs on the team means the Bills will likely look elsewhere early on in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Players connected to the Bills (will be updated):