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2019 NFL Draft: Finding cornerback depth for the Buffalo Bills

This year’s corner class offers something for everyone

After the Buffalo Bills starting cornerback Vontae Davis walked out on the team in Week 2, and his replacement Phillip Gaines proved ineffective, the team was in bad straights. They were forced to turn to undrafted free agent Levi Wallace out of sheer desperation. But Wallace ended up playing very well in his first game against the New York Jets, and the rookie seemed to gain confidence every week. However, it would be unwise for general manager Brandon Beane to assume that Wallace is the answer at cornerback. At the very least, Bills brass should commit to finding themselves some additional competition at the position.

Cornerback has been one of the few college positions that never seems to have a down year and always seems to result in players who produce early in their careers. The 2019 draft will likely be no different. Here are ten players I believe the Bills will be evaluating to provide additional depth.

Tier I

Byron Murphy (Washington)
Andraez “Greedy” Williams (LSU)

Both players in this tier will be gone in the first 15 picks, possibly in the first ten, and will walk on as immediate starters. Murphy’s young, but he’s the best athlete at corner coming out this year. He’s twitchy at all levels of the field, and he has enough speed to recover when overpowered at the line. He also has the ball skills teams want, with four interceptions in 2018. If we learned anything from last year, it’s that teams want athletic corners at the top of the draft (Denzel Ward). With good size, length, aggression and ball skills, Greedy has very few flaws. But there have been rumblings about how motivated his is to be a complete player.

Tier II

Trayvon Mullen (Clemson)
Deandre Baker (Georgia)
Julian Love (Notre Dame)
Rock Ya-Sin (Temple)

The team that drafts Mullen has to know they’re getting a man-coverage specialist, one who is fresh off shutting down Alabama’s dominant pair of receivers in the National Championship game. Georgia’s Baker is different. He’s battle tested, tough and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game. Unfortunately, he’s a bit small and isn’t fast enough or flexible enough for full-time man coverage. Love is at his best when he can play off-coverage and step in front of throws and smack receivers in the underneath passing game. Injuries will be a major concern, however. A personal favorite, Ya-Sin’s rise as a prospect has been meteoric. He beats up receivers all through their routes, and would look mighty fine in a Seattle-type Cover-3 system.

Tier III

Amani Oruwariye (Penn State)
Michael Jackson Sr. (Miami-Florida)
Kris Boyd (Texas)
David Long (Michigan)

The combine will be very important for Oruwariye, because his ability to stay with receivers if he doesn’t get his hands on them has been questioned. Even if he runs moderately well, his length and physicality will be very intriguing for teams. Another player whose long speed is questioned is Miami’s Jackson. He was well-regarded in 2017, but the wheels seemed to fall off this past year. Kris Boyd’s wheels fell off last month, at the Senior Bowl. His tendency to grab receivers at the top of their routes earned him multiple flags during the game. Still, teams will like how he tackles. Long’s a similar player to his former teammate Jourdan Lewis: on the smaller side, not particularly quick and won’t ‘wow’ you in practice, but a baller whenever he steps on the field.