State of the Bills: Secondary

Buffalo's secondary has been a bright spot through the first seven games of the season.

Buffalo Football Report is evaluating the Bills current roster as they prepare for their eighth game of the season. We will discuss each player at each position and provide you positives and negatives with their play through seven games this season.


Stephon Gilmore

Positives: Gilmore has been outstanding this season, yet he’s one of the most highly criticized players on the team. Cornerbacks can’t be perfect all the time, but Gilmore has done a terrific job in coverage this season. He’s allowed 31 completions on 60 targets (51.7%). Gilmore has also added two interceptions this season and is tied for third in the NFL in passes defensed with 14.

Negatives: Gilmore has allowed four touchdowns this season and the 31 completions have gone for 428 yards.

Future: Gilmore’s contract is up after the 2016 season and the team will probably have to pay him good money to keep him long-term.

Ronald Darby

Positives: Darby is arguably the steal of the 2015 NFL draft. The second round pick has been a lockdown cornerback in the first seven games of the season. Darby has been targeted 58 times this season and has only allowed 28 completions (48.3%). The completions have only gone for 287 yards. Darby has two interceptions on the season and is tied for the league lead in passes defensed with 16. Opposing quarterbacks have a 48.6 NFL rating when throwing in his direction. Only Josh Norman, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have better ratings.

Negatives: It’s hard to find anything to criticize about Darby’s game. He has been called for four penalties this season, so that is one area where Darby can improve.

Future: If Darby keeps his level of play up, people will be talking about him among the league’s elite sooner rather than later.

Leodis McKelvin

Positives: N/A

Negatives: N/A

Future: McKelvin will be added to the active roster this week and will strengthen Buffalo’s secondary. He could spell Gilmore and Darby at times and the team has mentioned playing him at safety.

Nickell Robey

Positives: In the slot, Robey has not allowed a touchdown this season. Robey has a track record of being among the league’s best slot cornerbacks.

Negatives: Robey has allowed 19-of-28 passes to be completed in the slot for 197 yards. Opposing quarterbacks have an 87.9 QB rating when throwing in his direction.

Future: Robey has tremendous instincts and should continue to produce well in the slot. In the second half of the season, Robey should see more pass rush snaps. He has 15 on the season and has recorded a sack to date.

Ron Brooks

Positives: Continues to find ways to stick on Buffalo’s roster. He hasn’t seen many defensive snaps this season but has made four special teams tackles.

Negatives: Brooks has five missed tackles on special teams and two penalties.

Future: Buffalo has no shortage of talent at cornerback so this season could be Brooks’ last with the Bills.

Mario Butler

Positives: Butler had a strong training camp for the Bills and won a job on the 53-man roster. In his only extended playing time this season against the Colts, Butler performed extremely well.

Negatives: N/A

Future: The cornerback has a chance to be the team’s third cornerback in the future if McKelvin is permanently moved to safety. Butler can also play special teams.

Corey Graham

Positives: Graham’s transition to safety was as smooth as it gets. He’s a natural at the position and has been a tackling machine for Buffalo. Graham only has one missed tackle this season.

Negatives: Graham has been called for three penalties this season. This is the biggest issue that he needs to work on over the final nine games of the season.

Future: Graham should continue to thrive in this role in front of his hometown fans.

Aaron Williams

Positives: Williams’ injury has made Bills fans realize how much he means to the secondary. There has been a significant drop-off at safety since he was placed on the injured reserve.

Negatives: Williams was playing fairly well in Dennis Thurman’s defense in his three appearances, but his coverage skills need improvement. He allowed three touchdowns in Buffalo’s first two games of the season and eight of 10 passes thrown in his direction were completed for 82 yards.

Future: If the Bills can somehow put together a string of wins, Williams could return for a playoff run.

Duke Williams

Positives: Williams has improved at safety this year, especially with the extra reps he’s seen over the last two games.

Negatives: Early in the season, Williams looked lost on the field at times.

Future: Aaron Williams’ injury is giving Williams an audition to prove that he can handle a larger role going forward.

Bacarri Rambo

Positives: Rambo has shown that he isn’t afraid to lay big hits on the field.

Negatives: Rambo has struggled on the field and he lost his job to Duke Williams in the last two weeks. He’s seen 11 snaps in the last two games.

Future: Rambo didn’t make the most of his opportunity. There’s no guarantee that Rambo keeps a job on the 53-man roster after the season.

Jonathan Meeks

Positives: Meeks has contributed on special teams since being promoted to the 53-man roster.

Negatives: Meeks has struggled to stay healthy in his short NFL career and could be released later in the season when Aaron Williams returns to the team.

Future: Meeks will continue to contribute on special teams this season but there is no reason to believe he’ll remain on the 53-man roster through the season.


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