This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
When the Buffalo Bills transitioned to a 3-4 defense in 2010, the team retained defensive backs coach George Catavolos, and his system as well. Catavolos coached under Dick Jauron in both Detroit and Buffalo, running coverages for those teams' Tampa 2 defenses. While George Edwards changed the front to a more traditional Bullough-Fairbanks 3-4, the back end played so well the previous season that the system, and Catavolos, were retained.
Buffalo's secondary continues to play Cover 2 as its base scheme, covering their cornerbacks over the top with a safety.
Cover 2 Man
This defense allows the cornerbacks to take chances in man, knowing that they have help over the top with each safety covering half of the deep field.
Cover 2 Zone
The corners play the same as in a traditional Tampa 2 in this defense: short zone, breaking on shorter throws, and keeping the play in front of them. Buffalo also mixed in Cover 1, with one safety playing centerfield, and Cover 3. The corners mixed between man and zone.
Cover 1 Man
This defense leaves the cornerbacks more exposed, as the free safety can either play a true center field, or shade to one receiver. One or both corners are left on the "island" in this defense.
Cover 3 Zone
In this defense, the corners are in zone, splitting the deep field into thirds. The strong safety plays a shorter zone, or can play man. This defense is fairly safe for the corner, since he's playing as deep as the deepest route, and usually lines up at least six yards off the ball in Cover 3.
Prince Amukamara in Cover Two Man
This is the coverage Amukamara would excel in the most. Amukamara's game is physical man coverage. This defense allows Amukamara to play closer to the line of scrimmage and bump receivers at the line, knowing that he has safety help over the top if he gets beat. Amukamara can also jump the short routes with abandon due to that same Cover 2 help.
Amukamara in Cover Two Zone
While Amukamara isn't as versed in zone as man from his Cornhusker days, this Tampa 2-style coverage scheme wouldn't be that hard of a jump for him for a couple reasons. The corners in a short zone can play at the line of scrimmage and bump receivers off routes. The corners can also take more chances breaking on the ball or on shorter routes. Amukamara would need reps on reading the quarterback, but that's a small jump from his current game.
Amukamara in Cover 1 Man
Amukamara can play in the coverage scheme, though he'd be limited in his physicality early on in his career. If Amukamara misses the bump at the line or doesn't stay with his receiver, there's no help over the top.
Amukamara in Cover 3
This is the least preferred defense for Amukamara to play in, at least as a rookie. His instincts in a true deep zone aren't as well developed as an NFL corner's, and Edwards would need to limit this coverage until Amukamara became comfortable with reading the quarterback and multiple receivers simultaneously.
Amukamara is a pretty good fit for Buffalo's defense given the amount of Cover 2 man and zone that Edwards calls. Buffalo played more Cover 1 Man and Cover 3 as the season wore on, as the defense needed the strong safety at the line of scrimmage to stop the run. If Amukamara is the pick, and Buffalo's run defense doesn't improve, it could be a long season until the rookie becomes comfortable playing in the deeper zones.
Amukamara could be the choice if Buffalo trades down from No. 3. While not a true shutdown corner, Amukamara could eventually develop into a Ty Law-type corner that isn't flashy but always puts himself in the right position.