After turning to undrafted free agent Levi Wallace out of sheer desperation in 2018, the Buffalo Bills had the second-year corner compete against newly signed free-agent cornerback Kevin Johnson for a starting spot in the 2019 preseason. Wallace was able to perform well enough to hold off Johnson before the season and during, although he certainly dealt with some struggles at points. Given those minor struggles from Wallace and with Johnson heading to free agency, Buffalo might be looking for any additions to the cornerback room through the draft.
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 2020 draft will likely be no different. Here are several players I believe the Bills will be evaluating to provide additional depth.
Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State)
CJ Henderson (Florida)
Kristian Fulton (LSU)
Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
Okudah has the most talent in the class and proved it when he completely shut down Clemson’s pair of elite receivers in the College Football Playoffs. Observers give Henderson grief for his lack of tackling ability in run support, but it remains to be seen if most NFL teams will care because his man-coverage ability is elite. Kristian Fulton was solidly beaten a few times in the College Playoffs, but he was largely lockdown throughout the regular season. He had some struggles this season, but Diggs remains a really talented player who might need some development before he can be a good starting NFL corner.
A big, tall corner, Johnson will be coveted by NFL teams that run a lot of Cover-3. Gladney has the elite make-up speed needed to play on an island in the pros, even if he’s not very feisty in coverage. Injuries slowed down Hall during the season, but he might be the most physical, man-cover corner in the draft. It was unfortunate that A.J. Terrell was beaten several times by LSU all-world receiver Ja’Marr Chase, because the Clemson cornerback has put up second-round worthy tape for two years straight.
Damon Arnette (Ohio State)
Darnay Holmes (UCLA)
Lamar Jackson (Nebraska)
Like many players before him, Arnette has all of the talent in the world except for great size. However, he’s battle-tested and might play better than wherever he’s drafted. A Senior Bowl practice riser, Holmes doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the players listed above, but he’s just as talented and could arguably compete to start in his first season in the pros. Jackson doesn’t have the speed to be a man-corner full time, but perhaps he can carve out a niche in zone coverage thanks to his size at 6’2”.
- All-22 analysis of Kevin Johnson’s 2019 season
- All-22 analysis of Levi Wallace’s 2019 season
- Contract projection shows a pay increase for Kevin Johnson in 2020
- Buffalo Bills don’t have enough cornerbacks for 2020 offseason
- Value free agent options limited at cornerback
- 2020 NFL Draft prospects could be starters or depth
- Opinion: Bills would be fine with Wallace as CB2, but they’ll need to add depth or re-sign Johnson