Bleacher Report added to list of national outlets praising Bills secondary
By: Nick Wojton
The accolades continue for the Buffalo Bills secondary in 2017.
With the 2017 NFL season concluding on Sunday with the Super Bowl, Bleacher Report has released their NFL1000 series which grades each player in each position group in the entire league.
The Bills defensive backs finished the season passing the eye for fans in western New York, but also did so in the eye of Bleacher Report.
Here’s how the Bills graded at safety and cornerback:
Micah Hyde, strong safety
BR ranking: 14th.
2017 stats: 16GP, 65 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes defended.
BR analysis: Hyde was everything the Bills could’ve asked for at safety. He finished with five interceptions, but that doesn’t begin to explain how valuable he was in coverage. Buffalo asked him to guard tight ends in man coverage as well as play the deep center field role. Hyde wasn’t the most aggressive safety against the run, but he got the job done and was quite the upgrade for the Bills.
Jordan Poyer, free safety
BR ranking: 18th.
2017 stats: 15GP, 63 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes defended, one fumble recovery.
BR analysis: Poyer played an interchangeable role with Micah Hyde in the Bills defense and was good against the pass. He was aggressive and jumped routes, and he proved to be quite the signing for Buffalo. He wasn’t as good in the run game, though. The 6’0″, 191-pounder is undersized but wasn’t a willing tackler. The 26-year-old was inconsistent, missing 19 percent of his chances to tackle.
Leonard Johnson, slot corner
BR rank: 29th.
2017 stats: 15GP, 40 tackles, seven passes defended, one fumble recovery.
BR analysis: A cog in Buffalo’s much-improved secondary, Leonard Johnson followed Bills head coach Sean McDermott from Carolina to Western New York to play in the slot. Johnson isn’t a dynamic or special athlete, but he’s smart, fills his run assignments and avoids blown coverages in zone. He struggled to impact the game as far as forcing turnovers, an issue over the last several years.
Tre’Davious White, outside cornerback
BR rank: 13th.
2017 stats: 16GP, 53 tackles, four interceptions, 18 passes defended, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries.
BR analysis: It’s not often that a draft pick looks like a major steal after his rookie year. But the Buffalo Bills nailed their decision to trade down in the 2017 NFL draft and select Tre’Davious White. He was the second-most productive first-year corner, just behind fellow phenom Marshon Lattimore in interceptions and passes defensed. Still, White was extraordinarily good at playing the ball, showing true No. 1 corner potential in Buffalo’s zone-heavy defense, and will be a pillar of this unit moving forward.
E.J. Gaines, outside cornerback
BR rank: 34th.
2017 stats: 11GP, 48 tackles, one interception, nine passes defended, three forced fumbles.
BR analysis: Originally viewed as a throw-in for the Bills in the Sammy Watkins trade with the Los Angeles Rams, E.J. Gaines had a solid third year in 2017. The physical zone specialist was the perfect No. 2 corner for the Bills’ Cover 2-heavy scheme. He’s neither a big player nor adept at playing the ball, which limits his overall upside. But he adds value by playing the run well, complementing a unit that asks their secondary to fill run gaps.