OK, I have to admit it, I had written Leodis McKelvin off. When the Buffalo Bills cut Drayton Florence after the 2012 NFL Draft, I thought, "Florence is better than McKelvin, must be keeping him for special teams." With two rookie kick/punt return prospects in 3rd round pick T.J. Graham and 4th round pick Ron Brooks, my feelings were that the team would make sure the rookies could show some competence in the return game before doing the inevitable and cutting McKelvin.
After being the first cornerback off the board in the 2008 NFL draft during one of the Bills' GM-less years, McKelvin has failed to justify his draft and salary status. His most memorable game, of course, was in the opener in New England in 2009 where he booted two kicks, one with two minutes left the in the game that gave Brady a chance to nail his proto-Gronkowski tight end down the seam for the go-ahead score.
Otherwise, McKelvin has been invisible as the third man on the depth chart and when he was played quality minutes, talented quarterbacks throw in his direction with impunity, because he always seems to have his back to the ball.I want to like McKelvin. He's the only player not named Stevie Johnson from the 2008 draft that's still on the team. And when some ignorant Bills fans decided to deface his lawn after the New England game, he really seemed to take it in stride by deciding not to press charges. That's a more merciful gesture than many of us are capable of making.
So hearing that McKelvin shined in the OTAs while in the nickel package as the slot corner makes for some good roster intrigue. Buffalo Rumblings' own Brain Galliford covered McKelvin's performance this week, and the early reports are positive. Perhaps the Bills have finally found a role for McKelvin's skill to really present itself.
Of course, the slot cornerback is by definition the third man down on the totem pole, with more athletically versatile players competing on the outside, so there is a tacit acceptance here that McKelvin's pedigree will never match on-the-field production. But the guy is still on the roster, so why not let him play where he seems comfortable?
WGR550's Joe Buscaglia stated today that he expects the Bills to keep six cornerbacks on their 53-man roster, that teams have to keep a stable of corners on tap in these pass-crazy times. You have to think those six are most likely Aaron Williams, Stephon Gilmore, Terrence McGee, Justin Rogers, Ron Brooks, and Leodis McKelvin.
If the Bills want to take the next step this year, they'll have to match up with the New England Patriots. If Leodis can prove his worth as a slot, maybe he'll stand a chance at covering Wes Welker and forcing Tom Brady to keep throwing to his tight ends down the seam. I'm sure Leodis' OTA performance has Bill Belichick tossing and turning.