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Friday, September 13, 2013
Grading the Bills' 53: Safeties

By Mike Rodak

Now that the Buffalo Bills have set their 53-man roster, we'll break it down, position by position:

SAFETIES

Personnel: Jairus Byrd (injured), Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Jim Leonhard, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks

Talent: B-plus. There's a good mix of skills at this position, starting at the top. Byrd has excellent range and is a ball hawk, and when healthy can be among the best in the NFL at his position. As a converted cornerback, Aaron Williams lacks the instincts of a natural safety, but brings athleticism to the back end of the defense. Searcy will be used closer to the line of scrimmage, and in addition to forcing a fumble in the preseason, added a sack in Week 1.

Depth: B-plus. Drafting Williams and Meeks in back-to-back rounds in April helped to shore up the back end of the depth chart at this position. The Bills have a good mix of established veterans (Byrd, Leonhard), developing players (A. Williams, Searcy), and rookies (D. Williams, Meeks). Having Aaron Williams or Searcy become a more solid starting option would push this grade higher.

Reliability: C. Byrd's contract dispute aside, his foot condition leaves this position in a tough spot, as it's not known when he'll return or if he will have to again miss time down the road. Beyond that, the Bills are relying heavily on a player who played another position (cornerback) for his first two seasons in Aaron Williams. Leonhard brings a steadying presence here, but it's still a position with a lot of short-term question marks.