The Buffalo Bills have one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks on their roster. As with most teams, though, they don’t have two shutdown corners. That’s not necessarily a dig—after all, we just said that most teams are in the same position—but it means that the team is always looking to add competition across from their All-Pro corner.
General manager Brandon Beane has signed various veterans to serve as that competition across from the team’s No. 1 cornerback. Vontae Davis, Kevin Johnson, E.J. Gaines, and Josh Norman all come to mind in the veteran free-agent role, and those players have worked out in various degrees of success, ranging from the atrocious (Davis) to the average (Norman) to the pleasantly surprised (Johnson) to the good when healthy (Gaines).
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile a player at the end other end of the spectrum—a young corner trying to prove that he belongs with one of the NFL’s top secondaries.
Name: Nick McCloud
Height/Weight: 6’ 193 lbs
Experience/Draft: R; signed with Bills as UDFA on 5/1/2021
College: Notre Dame (by way of NC State—he transferred in 2020)
Acquired: UDFA signing
Financial situation (per Spotrac): McCloud signed a standard UDFA contract—three years, $2,425,000 with $0 guaranteed.
2020 Recap: McCloud transferred to Notre Dame after taking a medical redshirt due to a knee injury in what would have been his final season at NC State in 2019. He played in 11 games for the Irish last year, making 33 tackles and one interception in his only season in South Bend. He had eight pass breakups and recovered two fumbles on the year.
Positional outlook: McCloud finds himself in a battle with plenty of other young players for a roster spot in what should be one of the league’s better secondary units. Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, and Dane Jackson all played big roles on the team last season, and they should once again be the favorites to make the final roster. Cam Lewis is the last of the returning corners on the roster. Buffalo also added Rachad Wildgoose Jr. through the draft and Olaijah Griffin as an undrafted rookie free agent.
2021 Offseason: McCloud is healthy and he was spotted at OTAs earlier in the week.
2021 Season outlook: McCloud comes with strong recommendations from not one, but two former Bills corners who were drafted in the first round—Stephon Gilmore (2012 First-Round choice) and Jeff Burris (1994 First-Round choice), the latter of whom is also a Notre Dame alumnus. McCloud tested well at his pro day, running a 4.46 40-yard dash and displaying a 34” vertical leap, but Lance Zierlein notes that McCloud doesn’t play to the speed suggested by his strong workout numbers. McCloud is likely fighting for a spot on Buffalo’s practice squad this season, and he presents an intriguing mix of size, speed, and potential for the back end of the roster.