Bills War Room: Cornerback

Buffalo needs to draft a cornerback high in next weekend's draft. Plenty of options are available.

On Board: Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer, Ashton Youboty, Will James, Dustin Fox

Best of the Bunch: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State), Leodis McKelvin (Troy), Aqib Talib (Kansas), Mike Jenkins (South Florida), Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech), Antoine Carson (Arizona)

After Nate Clements left for San Francisco last offseason, the Bills struggled to keep their corners sealed against opposing receivers during the 2007 campaign. The secondary was gashed for an average of 238.4 passing yards every game, which was 29th in the league. They also gave up 19 touchdowns, seven plays that went for 40+ yards, and a league-high 55 plays of 20+ yards or more.

Too often their CBs saw opposing receivers torch them on routes and dominate downfield. Some of this can be attributed to injuries and youth, but the reality is the Bills front office needs to fill the void vacated by Clements last year. There is a lot of talent at CB in this year's draft pool, which is good because their situation calls for a quicker and more talented player who can help shutdown receivers on the outside.

Several other teams are eyeing the top CB prospects in the first as well, including New Orleans and New England, with both teams picking ahead of the Bills. Buffalo has spent nearly all of its free agency attention on its defense, so it will be interesting to see if they continue this trend into the draft by picking up a CB in the first round. If they do, they have several worthwhile players to choose from. Players that can make an immediate impact on a position that struggled to find its groove during the season.

At the head of the pack is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a tall and speedy corner from Tennessee State. He had an impressive college career and turned in a banner combine performance, running a 4.33 40 while achieving combine-best performances in the vertical jump, broad jump, and 60-yard shuttle. Rodgers-Cromartie is by far the closest thing to a "shutdown" corner in this years draft, as he only allowed 3.54 yards per pass attempt collegiate, while picking off 11 passes and deflecting 25.

There's a good chance Rodgers-Cromartie may be plucked before the Bills pick, considering his stock has flown through the roof lately. Buffalo shouldn't dwell on this, as there are many other talented CBs that will fall to the mid-to-late first round.

One such player is Leodis McKelvin, a multi-talented DB from Troy. McKelvin possess great speed and agility, which also makes him a dangerous kickoff and punt return threat. The return game is where he excelled in college, but his ability at corner is also hard to ignore. He could be a great fit for the Bills, not only at corner, but also among the league's premier returners with Terrence McGee and Roscoe Parrish.

Another feasible pick for the Bills' draft position is Mike Jenkins, another "shutdown" type corner from South Florida. Jenkins accels at disrupting receivers' routes by utilizing good press coverage technique, and like McKelvin, possess great speed. Also, Jenkins is known for his kick return ability and could help the Bills and their special teams.

If the Bills choose to wait for the second round to pick a CB, there will still be talent left at CB. One quality player that could still be around is Brandon Flowers, an agile corner from Virginia Tech.

Flowers could possibly drop to the second round because of his height, as he only stands at 5-foot-10. He is very quick and displays great awareness, but with receivers only getting taller, the corner needs to be able to fight for the high balls.

Brandon Flowers could still be an impact player, but if the Bills really want to make a difference they'll have to draft higher. With WR as another big need for the team, CB could be shelved for the second round.

The Bills have a total of ten picks in the draft, with two picks in round four and three in round seven. They have six picks in the top 150, and could use this to their advantage. Maybe the Bills Brass can orchestrate another Losman-Evans type first round by trading around and snatching up both a WR and CB in the first round.

Either way, there are plenty of options for the Bills in the way of CBs in this year's draft. There is a definite need in their secondary for a new spark, a new exciting player to join the already-seasoned roster of CBs that struggled to find their way in 2007.

Marc Heintzman is a BFR Contributor. Contact him at

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