Thursday, September 12, 2013
Grading the Bills' 53: Cornerbacks
By Mike Rodak
Now that the Buffalo Bills have set their 53-man roster, we'll break it down, position by position:
Personnel: Stephon Gilmore (injured), Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Justin Rogers, Ron Brooks (injured), Brandon Burton, Johnny Adams (practice squad: Brandon Smith)
Talent: C-minus. The strength of this position is at the top, where Gilmore had begun to flash premier cornerback skills before suffering his wrist injury in the preseason. Behind him, the Bills have an undersized group that includes McKelvin (5-foot-10), Rogers (5-foot-11), and Robey (5-foot-8). The problem for the Bills is that they have players who, on most teams, would be used in lesser roles than they have in Buffalo. As a starter, for example, Rogers does not have the physical skills to match up well against some of the better receivers he will face this season.
Depth: D-plus. Robey deserves credit for making the Bills' 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent and looked generally solid in his debut Sunday. But for the Bills to thrust a player like him into a major role (he was the fifth defensive back on the field, an increasingly important position in the NFL) speaks to their other options at the position. The greatest lack of depth here is at No. 2 and No. 3, not as much at the bottom of the depth chart. Look for the Bills to draft a cornerback next season, and for Rogers, Brooks, and others to battle for that last spot.
Reliability: D. There's some experience here, especially with McKelvin, but it remains one of the younger positions on the Bills' roster. Four of the top five options are currently injured or were injured at some point during training camp, and the remaining player, Robey, is a rookie. It's a combination of injury history and lack of experience that earns the position this grade. When the game is on the line, nobody really knows how these players will fare.