State of the Bills Roster: Cornerbacks


McKelvin has a bright future in Buffalo (Associated Press)

The "State of the Bills Roster" series trucks on! If you're new around these parts within the past nine months or so, this series is an off-season progression of posts in which we'll break down Buffalo's roster in-depth. From these discussions, we'll put together a "Community Needs List" in priority order, then begin researching potential free agent and draft acquisitions that will satisfy all of the Bills' needs as we perceive them.

We continue our foray into heavy-duty off-season work at Buffalo Rumblings right now. It's our "State of the Roster" series, off-season mode, and we'll continue the discussions by breaking down the Bills' situation at cornerback..
  Previous installments: QB :: RB :: TE :: WR :: OT :: G/C :: DE :: DT :: MLB :: OLB
  New: Prioritized Offensive Needs List

Opening statement
I'm a bit dazed and confused here, folks. Why? Well, we've finally reached a position on the Buffalo Bills roster to analyze that, for all intents and purposes, is set for 2009. How bizarre is that? Not that bizarre, actually, considering the Bills spent the majority of their time last April addressing the position. Even with Jabari Greer being the Bills' biggest-name free agent, his future with the team doesn't leave much question that this position is the strength of Buffalo's defense.

#24 Terrence McGee (starter)
  5'9", 198 pounds
  Age: 29 in October 2009
  Contract status: 1 year remaining (UFA after 2009); owed $3M in base salary.
- With Buffalo's top cornerback, we have now reached the eye of the storm in terms of how the Bills will approach this position in the upcoming months. The coaching staff likes McGee, and with one poor showing in Miami aside, he had a solid (yet highly unspectacular) season in 2008. But after this coming season - his last under his current deal - he'll be entering a season in which he'll turn 30, and he's had some injury issues to deal with over the past couple of seasons. Long story short: he's only border-line reliable as a top cornerback in this league. In deciding what to do with other corners on their roster, the Bills need to first make a decision on McGee's future with the franchise.

#28 Leodis McKelvin (starter)
  5'11", 190 pounds
  Age: 24 in September 2009
  Contract status: Entering second year of 5-year, $19.4M deal.
- Looking at the cornerback position realistically, three items of interest quickly become obvious: McGee will start in 2009, Greer's status is uncertain, and McKelvin has a ton of upside. He established himself as a playmaker at the end of his rookie season, and though he's still green in terms of technique at the corner position, he was able to make up for those shortcomings with phenomenal athleticism. Regardless of what the coaching staff decides in terms of McGee and Greer, McKelvin is the future at this position. There's no way he's not one of the two starters in 2009.

#33 Jabari Greer
  5'11", 180 pounds
  Age: 27 in February 2009
  Contract status: Unrestricted Free Agent.
- It's tough to envision a scenario in which Greer returns to Buffalo in 2009. In the prime of his career, Greer is coming off of his best season as a pro, and as an unrestricted free agent that hasn't made a ton of money in his time in Buffalo, he's got some catching up to do. The Bills have McGee and three young cornerbacks forming the nucleus of the position, so Greer is largely a short-term luxury for the Bills. That will likely cool their interest this off-season, making it more likely that Greer gets a lucrative deal from another team. That's not a bad thing, Bills fans.

The rest of the cornerbacks are after the jump, including breakdowns.

#26 Ashton Youboty
  5'11", 189 pounds
  Age: 25 in July 2009
  Contract status: 1 year remaining (UFA after 2009); owed $530K in base salary.
- Youboty beat out veteran Will James for the nickel corner role last year in training camp, and during the early stretches of the season, Youboty was Buffalo's best defensive back. Then his achilles heel kicked in again when he went down with a season-ending injury - again. Youboty's injury issues make him unreliable, but when he's been on the field, he's been very good. He'll compete for the nickel job again next year, and if he can stay healthy and produce in 2009, he might earn himself a contract extension here in Buffalo. People are quick to forget that though he'll be entering his fourth year in the league, Youboty will be just 25 years old next year, making him the second-youngest corner on the roster behind McKelvin.

#27 Reggie Corner
  5'9", 175 pounds
  Age: 26 in November 2009
  Contract status: 3 years remaining (UFA after 20011); owed $1.41M in base salaries.
- Corner was one of a few "who?" draft picks for the Bills in '08, but his rookie season was solid enough that few Bills fans continue to hate the pick. Best known for his pass break-up to seal a late-season win in Denver, Corner made plenty of mistakes in '08 as he was thrust into sub-package duty due to injuries to Youboty and Greer. Still, he also had some good performances, including an outstanding effort against Denver's Brandon Stokley. He'll never be anything more than a sub-package corner and special teams contributor in all likelihood, but he can be very good in that role as soon as 2009.

#35 Dustin Fox
  5'11", 200 pounds
  Age: 27 in October 2009
  Contract status: Restricted Free Agent.
- It's hard to fathom how this guy is still around. His practice squad eligibility is up, and he can no longer claim untapped potential as a reason to be even on the back end of an NFL roster. He probably won't be a Bill in 2009.

The Breakdown
Keepers: McGee, McKelvin, Corner, Youboty. McGee is staying for '09, but if the Bills don't see him as a big part of their plans beyond next season, then re-signing Greer should be a priority. The three young guys stick around for obvious reasons.

Extendables: None, though I'm guessing there are a few who might want to see Greer's name in this category.

Expendables: Greer. I'm putting Greer here simply based on the fact that he's not likely to return. The Bills have four solid corners already, and signing a fifth for semi-big money that might result in a starter isn't wise spending in my book. I'd rather see Greer walk than sign him and potentially miss out on adding impact at other positions.

Goners: Fox. Unless he pulls a Jason Jefferson and survives another roster overhaul.

What we need: Assuming that Greer is heading out of town for good, Buffalo might look to the late rounds to find a developmental prospect or two as fifth and sixth corners. But with McGee, McKelvin, Youboty and Corner in place, the Bills have a good nucleus. Nothing major needs to happen here. Take note of that, One Bills Drive. We want to see some physicality brought in this off-season. We don't need any more big-name corners.

That's it. I'm done with the easy stuff. Now it's on you, folks. Do you disagree with me and think Greer should be re-signed? Vote in the poll! What do you make of McGee's future past 2009? Can Youboty make it through an entire season without another career setback? Have fun with this, and let's get brainstorming.
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