He's one of the few fourth-round prospects drafted this past spring that could push for time on the field as a rookie, but Bills rookie safety Da'Norris Searcy is joining a position group loaded with veterans. Though his talent is undeniable, so is the will of players like Bryan Scott and George Wilson to maintain their current status on Buffalo's depth chart.
There's no way to dispute that Searcy brings a physical presence to the safety position with his size alone. At 5'11 and change and 223 pounds he can hit and tackle.
"I see a young man that's physical," said Bills secondary coach George Catavolos. "He's 220 pounds, a good tackler, plays well in the box."
What sets Searcy apart from most safeties that size is he can also run and cover making him more than just a one-dimensional defensive back.
"He has the capabilities of playing deep zone," Catavolos said. "He's got good hands. He can make plays catching the ball for interceptions and turnovers. I'm going to be real interested in watching his progression and how he fits into our defensive scheme."
Having the capability of being interchangeable at the safety position these days is critical in the NFL. It aids defensive coordinators in disguising coverages. Searcy clearly offers that.
What he doesn't have however, is time in Buffalo's system and that's where Scott, Wilson and special teams ace Jon Corto, the other strong safety candidates, have the edge.
"The thing that I'm looking for from (Searcy) is how fast he adapts to pro football," said Catavolos. "The rookies are going to be without the OTAs and the minicamps. They'll be behind, so they'll be hitting it on the run. The way we have things for installation it'll be a little simpler so they should be able to pick it up with no problem."
Still there is a chance that a shortened offseason and lack of exposure to Buffalo's system could keep Searcy from truly challenging for a prominent role in the Bills defense, but head coach Chan Gailey sees Searcy ultimately pushing for a role of some kind.
"He'll find a niche," said Gailey. "As much as we have to play our nickel packages and be strong against the run in nickel packages in these days and times because of the offenses we're seeing he gives you an added element in there to attack those types of offenses that we're facing."
It's anticipated that the assistant coaches will spend as much time as they can with the rookies once everyone is back to work. They know they need to get them up to speed with time expected to be short before the games that count begin. Catavolos is just glad to add another talented young player to his safety contingent that appears to have the same character makeup as Scott and Wilson.
"We're excited as a staff to have these individuals," he said. "The one thing that is always proven here is having competition at the position. So everybody has to be playing their best, practicing their best and the one thing about the character of football players that are here in Buffalo is they have excellent work ethic and they'll play until the whistle, and they'll play hard for 60 or 70 snaps and I think this young player fits into the same mold."