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Cornerback: The Next Big Addition?

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Is Youboty ready to start?

Most Bills fans came out of the 2007 NFL Draft pleased with what GM Marv Levy and the Bills' front office accomplished. Landing Marshawn Lynch and Paul Posluszny gave the Bills two immediate starters and provided a little excitement to what had otherwise been a tiresome off-season in Orchard Park.

However, of the seven picks that the Bills made, it's easy to point out the position that the team didn't address that probably should have been: cornerback. Head Coach Dick Jauron was recently quoted in a Buffalo News article saying as much - the team still needs depth at corner.

"We like the guys that we have, but I would think that if you were a free agent corner this is a place where you would be interested in coming because of our lack of great depth there," Jauron said during the Bills' rookie minicamp, which concluded Monday. "We brought some in and we'll keep looking. We'd like to get the best group we can to compete at every position and we'll look everywhere."

The lack of depth, of course, was created by the monstrous(ly overdone) contract that Nate Clements received from the San Francisco 49ers. That left the oft-burned Terrence McGee as our number one corner, with veteran Kiwaukee Thomas battling youngsters Ashton Youboty and Jabari Greer for playing time at the starting and nickel spots. Behind these four, the most experienced player on the roster is Eric Bassey, who spent last year (his rookie season) on the practice squad. Despite the lack of depth, the four guys we have are at least steady and talented.

Jauron's plea to free agent corners is almost touching, but at the moment the corner market is too thin to take any candidates seriously. Juran Bolden was released by the Buccaneers and has experience in the Tampa-2 system, but he is over 30 years old and is probably at the end of his career. Sadly, he seems to be the best option - Jason Webster is a close second, with Rashad Bauman, Chris Cash, and Daylon McCutcheon the other "big" names available. To be honest, I'd rather see the team keep Bassey as a fifth corner than sign any of these guys.

We must keep in mind that there will be some cuts on June 1st, so a few names might surface there. There is also the Asante Samuel situation in New England - no, I'm not saying the Bills should make a move for Samuel; the price tag to a division rival would be far too high. But if he does get moved, it could free up another name who would conceivably be released to make room for Samuel on another team's roster. It's not a given, it's just an idea.

I do love the fact, however, that Levy decided to focus on other parts of this young football team besides cornerback. This is a trend in the league in terms of teams that run a Cover-2; Indianapolis watched Nick Harper and Jason David leave the team and will replace them with a very young trio of corners there. WCG of Windy City Gridiron mentioned here a couple of days ago that the Bears will likely follow suit next off-season and let both Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher walk. Cornerbacks are not a huge priority in this defensive scheme - cover skills aren't as big a necessity; the one thing corners need to be able to do in this system is tackle.

Only time will tell whether the Bills bring in another cornerback. I expect that they will, but don't expect a big name - it would be a depth signing. Our top four corners are set. Get used to seeing McGee and Thomas on the outside in base packages. Get used to seeing McGee and Youboty outside with Thomas and Greer inside on nickel and dime packages. That's our situation heading into the year, and any free agent addition we make won't change that.