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2018 NFL Draft slot cornerback candidates to fill Leonard Johnson’s role for Buffalo Bills

These players are all ideal slot corners and would come cheap

There’s no reason to think that the Buffalo Bills had issues with the play of slot cornerback Leonard Johnson, so there is a chance he will be re-signed this offseason. However, slot corner is one of the positions where it’s not that difficult to find an upgrade in the later rounds of the NFL Draft, so the team may decide to spend a middle or late round pick at the position. If that is the case, Bills brass will be evaluating the players below.

Tier I

Anthony Averett, Alabama
DJ Reed, Kansas State
Duke Dawson, Florida

Because slot corners are undervalued by most NFL teams, these Tier I prospects may not be taken until Day Two or even early Day Three of the draft. Anthony Averett, with his loose hips and quick feet, has similar traits to Tre’Davious White. He has inside-out versatility. DJ Reed was an outside receiver for Kansas State and has all the necessary speed, but at 5’9” he’ll make the move into the slot. He offers exceptional return ability as well. Duke Dawson’s mirroring skills aren’t perfect, but if allowed to press at the line, receivers have a tough time extricating themselves.

Tier II

Grant Haley, Penn State
Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
Jalen Davis, Utah State

Haley was Penn State’s full-time slot cornerback and a favorite of the guys over at Pro Football Focus. But, he’s not the most physical tackler. Western Michigan’s Darius Phillips is also weak against the run, but he plays the ball extremely well. Early in 2017, Jalen Davis blew up the first half of the college football season with a series of interceptions and sacks. He cooled off later in the season, but a good combine and pro-day could provide him with some renewed recognition.

Tier III

Heath Harding, Miami University
Avonte Maddox, Pitt

If the Bills are looking for the most Leonard Johnson-like corner, Heath Harding would be the best choice. Despite average athleticism, he loves to hit receivers and can contribute against the run. Ultra-productive throughout his career at Pitt, Avonte Maddox had a great Shrine Game as well, which ensures that he will be drafted.