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Rookie CBs provide much needed depth

Posted Jul 15, 2011

A lot can still change between now and the time the 2011 NFL season is scheduled to begin, but Buffalo’s front office wasn’t taking any chances. Armed with nine draft picks, Bills GM Buddy Nix used seven of them for his defense, with three of those used to address the Bills secondary, which included a pair of cornerbacks.

“There are things you should do every year and taking a cornerback is one of them,” said Nix on day two of the draft.

Second-round pick Aaron Williams and seventh-round pick Justin Rogers were added on the edges. So although Buffalo has three cornerbacks under contract defensive coordinator George Edwards is glad to have the reinforcements.

“I think at that position there’s always over our history we’ve had injuries,” said Edwards. “You look at last year we had a rash of injuries at the position so from that aspect of it we’ve got some young developmental guys that we’re interested in getting in here and working with. So I think we did help ourselves depth-wise with the free agent questions that we don’t have answers on yet. We have some young guys coming in that are competitors and we’re looking forward to getting them out there.”

It’s believed by most that Williams will push for a significant role in Buffalo’s defensive backfield right away. Bills secondary coach George Catavolos already sounds as if he has some initial thoughts on where Williams could fit based off film review of the Texas product.

“I liked his size, his ball skills,” Catavolos said. “I liked the way he challenged receivers. I liked his playmaking ability. I saw him in the nickel position and he did an outstanding job playing the slot receiver.

“When he comes in we’ll put him at the corner position and let him play and then work into our nickel package and I think that’ll be a very good fit for him.”

The reason why Catavolos believes Williams could be such a good fit in the slot is because even if teams decide to run at him he has an answer for that.

“He’ll tag you,” said Catavolos. “He’ll hit and wrap up. I think that his size is 205 pounds and he’s got decent height.”

Catavolos says his chances of being one of the club’s top three cornerbacks will hinge on how quickly he can pick up the system and on the staff getting him enough reps to get acclimated to the NFL game.

“We know he’s very capable of learning,” he said. “The fact is how fast he picks up the techniques and things of that (nature). That will tell us whether he can work into being a starter or into a backup situation. I just think that the young man has a tremendous future.”

Justin Rogers might be a seventh-round pick, but Buffalo has struck gold in that round of the draft before (see: Stevie Johnson). Though he played his college ball at Richmond, Catavolos sees a prospect with some special talent in his arsenal.

“Justin Rogers is a very good technician,” said Buffalo’s secondary coach. “He’s done an excellent job with his coverage skills. For a 180-pounder he won’t shy away from anybody. He’ll throw his body in there. I know from talking to him and seeing him in some of the bowl games he was very competitive so I’m looking for him to be in the mix also.”

Catavolos is banking on Rogers’ football smarts to help keep the rookie cornerback up to speed knowing all of the first year players have missed valuable practice time this spring.

“Just based on the competition he’s played, his temperament, he’s a highly intelligent guy,” he said.
“I think this guy might be the… I don’t want to say surprise of the draft, but I do think this young man has the intelligence and physical skills that could be very beneficial for us this season.”

What the additional talent offers Buffalo’s secondary are more options, and it’ll be up to the coaching staff to line them up where they’ll help the most.

“That’s the thing that you enjoy about the guys that we’ve got,” Edwards said. “There’s going to be competition because of the young guys we’ve brought in there. That’s how you get better. You let them go out there and compete every day.”