1 - Safeties get national attentionLooking back at the Bills last season, it's hard to not see the roles Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer played in the success of the team. Last week, Hyde was voted as one of the top 100 players in the NFL at 62. Along with his Pro Bowl nomination, Hyde is getting a lot of recognition around the league. According to Bleacher Report, no one should be sleeping on Poyer either.
A player who is underappreciated, though, is safety Jordan Poyer. Like fellow safety Micah Hyde, Poyer signed a free-agent contract with Buffalo last offseason. After he posted just 10 starts, two interceptions and six pass deflections in four seasons in Cleveland, Poyer's first year in Buffalo included career highs of 15 starts, five interceptions and 13 pass deflections.
Poyer, Hyde and Tre'Davious White, a first-round rookie cornerback, gave the Bills secondary a facelift in 2017. Poyer's contribution to that trio should not be overlooked.
Poyer and Hyde made the Bills defense a nightmare for quarterbacks and receivers. That includes five interceptions apiece, including a pick six for Poyer off Tom Brady in Foxborough last season.
SBNation compiled a list of the one position each team should feel great about. No surprise for the Bills, that position was safety.
After the 2016 season, the Bills started over at safety. Out were Corey Graham and Aaron Williams; in were Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. The result was a significant upgrade for Buffalo with Hyde earning a spot in the Pro Bowl and Poyer way outplaying his bargain contract of $13 million over four years. The Bills were the only team in the NFL with two safeties who had top-five coverage grades on Pro Football Focus, and were one of only two teams that allowed 14 or fewer passing touchdowns. There isn't much depth behind the excellent starting duo, but Buffalo added fifth-round pick Siran Neal and former Saints safety Rafael Bush on a cheap two-year deal.
Entering year two of the same staff and scheme, Poyer and Hyde are preparing to torment NFL offenses all over again.
2 - Gerhard de Beer's journey to the NFL
He's a mountain of a man that certainly looks like he was born to be football player, but Bills rookie offensive lineman Gerhard de Beer had little knowledge of the sport growing up. When he joined Steve Tasker and John Murphy on One Bills Live, the three of them couldn't help but laugh where de Beer's initial knowledge of the game came from.
"I mean, so I played a little bit of Madden. Yeah, that was my experience. Also, I played a little bit of NFL Street 3, I think it was," said de Beer. "Anyway, so my experience was literally through video games, but my interest in the game sparkled when I heard a story about Margus Hunt, and he's a defensive end. He went to SMU, and SMU wanted to recruit me solely for football as well because he came from Estonia on a track and field scholarship, and this guy is a freak athlete… So, I was watching him and his story, and it was real inspiring to me just watching all this."
From Pretoria, South Africa, de Beer was a standout track and field star in the discus event and he was also a rugby player. When he began looking for a college to go in the United States, he had two requirements. One, the school needed a track and field program. Two, he wanted the opportunity to walk on to the school's football team.
Attending the University of Arizona, de Beer went from a walk on to a starter with Wildcats while continuing to succeed as a discus thrower. But, when it came time for the NFL Draft, his name was never called.
"I would lie if I said I wasn't disappointed," said de Beer. "But still regardless, I knew I was going to get an opportunity and for me, it's not necessarily about what you got, but what you make of it. So for me, I came as a walk on to Arizona. I ended up starting a bunch of games there. So, for me I'm a free agent here, I'm an underdog and I can't wait to prove everybody wrong."
3 - Bills wide receiver looking forward to mentoring roleIn April, the Bills signed seven-year NFL veteran and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. Spending six of his seasons with the Jets and one with the 49ers, Kerley is now coming to Buffalo and a wide-open battle for a spot on the roster.
Check out photos from One Bills Drive as Buffalo's 2018 OTAs kick off.
One of the oldest wide-receivers on the roster, Kerley will be looked to by many of the incoming rookies for experience. When he joined The Sean Pendergast Show he said he's ready to take on that role.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Kerley. "There's not a lot of places I've gone where I've been the oldest in the room. It's a different situation. But it gives the young guys a good outlet if they want to ask questions or however they want to come at us. I just want to give back to players who, you know I've been in that same position. So, I'll be in many ways like a mentor."
Kerley will be looking to do more than just help the young wide receivers. Kerley has spent time during his career with both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith when they were both first getting started in the NFL. With Josh Allen having the possibility to become a starter in Buffalo, Kerley knows he may be helping Allen's progression as well.
"I'm looking forward to playing with him," said Kerley. "He's got a big arm, and he seems like a good kid. I think the biggest part of playing with a young quarterback is being a veteran for him, and always coming to him about what you see, and what could potentially help him."
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