The Bills went into the 2015 NFL draft without a first-round pick, but it didn't keep them from acquiring a player good enough for the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team. Buffalo cornerback Ronald Darby was named to the All-Rookie squad of the league's writers Tuesday.
Buffalo's second-round pick appeared in 15 games in 2015 and logged 69 tackles with a pair of interceptions and a single-season team record for pass breakups with 21. Those 21 passes defensed was good enough for the fourth-highest total in the league.
"It's hard to play corner in this league. There isn't any doubt about that, but this guy's up for the task," said head coach Rex Ryan of Darby. "This young guy has it in here (pointing to heart). It takes a rare individual to be able to go out there on the corner, especially playing as much man coverage as we do. It's him going up against whoever he's up against, and that's it. He's up for that challenge week-in and week-out."
Despite having a more than capable number one corner on the roster in Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo's defensive staff thought enough of Darby's ability that they never had Gilmore follow any top opposing receiver around for any game this season. They let Darby play the left and Gilmore play the right cornerback positions as long as both were healthy.
Darby was targeted often, as most rookies are, but proved up to the task time and again. Evidence of that came in his four games in which he had three pass breakups or more this past season.
Just 21-years old, Darby is the first Bills player named to the All-Rookie team since Kiko Alonso made the squad in 2013 and was named PFWA Defensive Player of the Year. Darby is Buffalo's first defensive back to make the team since Jairus Byrd did it in 2009.
As for where the young cornerback's game can go from here, his head coach sees limitless potential.
"Ronald Darby is going to be a star in this league," said Ryan.