Last year the Buffalo Bills struggled with defensive depth as injuries took a toll. Free agent coming and goings this offseason have helped in some positions and hurt in others. The question still remains whether or not they should be worried about their depth on defense. Taking a look at the defensive roster and depth will help grasp an idea of what to expect.
Interior Defensive Line
Starters: Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus
Depth: Jerel Worthy, Adolphus Washington and Deandre Coleman
All three of the depth players showed a good amount of promise last season. Worthy had a lot of good production and could be a bright spot for the future. Washington played well for being thrown into the fire as a third-round pick and Deandre Coleman showed a lot of raw power in the few appearances he made. Overall the interior of the defense is going to be a strong area for the Bills.
Pass Rushers and Edge Defenders
Starters: Shaq Lawson and Jerry Hughes
Depth: Lorenzo Alexander, Ryan Davis and Max Valles
Lorenzo Alexander needs no introduction as he lead the Bills and appeared near the top of the NFL in sacks with 12.5 last year. He could play an important role in third-down situations. Ryan Davis signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an UDFA in 2012 and hasn’t shown much from a statistical standpoint but breakdown of his film shows that he has the chance to be productive. Max Valles still has untapped potential, but he has yet to appear in a regular season game for the Bills. After Lorenzo Alexander, the depth here can get suspicious but Lorenzo helps the overall depth at this position seem manageable.
Starters: Preston Brown, Reggie Ragland and Ramon Humber
Depth: Gerald Hodges, Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo
This starting threesome is very much up in the air. Hodges has a good chance of coming in and starting on the weak side in place of Humber and had his best season last year with the 49ers tallying 83 tackles and 2 interceptions. Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo are the two of the rookies the Bills drafted in April. Milano posted 59 tackles in his final year at Boston College and added 6.5 sacks to that while Vallejo had 69 tackles and 6 sacks. Vallejo had the more productive college career but might struggle finding his true position. On the other hand, Milano projects as a good fit as the weakside linebacker. Milano’s freshman year he played a bit of safety, he has versatility if needed. Depending on how the rookies perform in camp, the linebacker depth many think is not the strong suit of the Bills could very well surprise coaches and fans.
Starters: Tre’Davious White and Ronald Darby
Depth: Kevon Seymour, Shareece Wright and Leonard Johnson
Kevon Seymour was outstanding last year as a rookie sixth-round pick and only expect progression from him. Seymour even showed potential on an island last year as he started 3 games at corner. Shareece Wright, the Uber guy, started in 9 games of the 12 he played for Baltimore last season. Wright won’t go and create turnovers but he is one of the better corners against the run and that is the focal point for McDermott at the position. Leonard Johnson followed Sean McDermott to Buffalo and appeared in 10 games with Carolina last year. Johnson had 30 tackles, a sack and a pass defended in those games. The corner position for the Bills is better than most people realize and playing in zone the majority of the time will only help the secondary.
Starters: Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer
Depth: Colt Anderson and Shamiel Gary
The safety depth will make you cringe. Colt Anderson has been a solid special teams player in the past but has been a liability in coverage over the course of his career. He only appeared in two games last year for the Bills and recorded 2 tackles. Shamiel Gray is mainly a special teams player as well but has gotten little to no time playing defense. Entering his third year in the NFL and has played in just 9 games, 3 of which were for the Bills in 2016. If Hyde or Poyer become unavailable, the reinforcements behind them will questionable at safety at the best.
The depth of the defense as a whole isn’t one to be too worried about but there are definitely some areas you will want to avoid. Some will happen but hopefully the injury bug makes its way to a new team this year and the Bills can stay relatively healthy to avoid and issues they have with their depth.