What’s next for the Bills at cornerback, post 2021 NFL draft

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David De Cristofaro
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NFL analysts and mock drafts anticipated that the Bills would be looking to add a cornerback in the NFL draft, and in the sixth round, they did just that.

While it may not have happened as early as some had speculated, versatile Wisconsin corner Rachad Wildgoose was selected. As he projects to develop in the slot behind Taron Johnson, some might wonder what impact that might have at the corner position across from Tre White.

Last year saw Buffalo take Pitt corner Dane Jackson in the seventh round, providing competition for starter Levi Wallace. Another member of that Pitt defense was added this year in safety Damar Hamlin, and Bills general manager Brandon Beane has verbally thrown his support behind Jackson on multiple occasions. He continued to do so after the draft, praising the dependability of the CB’s skills, playmaking, and production.

“Just because we didn’t get a corner high doesn’t mean there are not other options later. But we do believe Levi and Dane and the guys we have here” Beane said while addressing the media. “Every chance Dane got in a game, it wasn’t too big for him, he made plays.”

It’s worth noting one of the more successful cornerbacks developed in head coach Sean McDermott’s system, Josh Norman, was drafted in the fifth round when Beane and McDermott were with the Panthers. Norman’s success offers a testament to the potential that can be reached.

Beane went on to emphasize an important feature he looks for at the position in McDermott and assistant head coach Leslie Frazier’s defense, which is the ability to tackle.

“One of the key traits in Leslie and Sean’s defense that we count on in corners that some don’t… We need our corners to come up and tackle. It’s just the way this is built, so, that’s a big part of it that gets overlooked,” Beane said.

The Bills GM was active as usual right after the conclusion of the draft in recruiting players who went unpicked during those seven rounds.

Corner Nick McCloud from Notre Dame was one of two CB’s that were added to the position group, At 6-foot, 193-pounds, the graduate transfer from North Carolina State forced two fumbles, had eight pass breakups, and an interception in one year with the Fighting Irish last season. He also had a 4.3 40-yard dash at the school’s pro day.

Another player added was USC corner Olaijah Griffin, a Pac-12 honorable mention selection who in 2020 had an interception to go with 22 tackles, and four broken-up passes for the Trojans. The son of rapper and producer Warren G, Griffin will look to crack the roster to regulate in Buffalo.

With the draft over, there might be additional options still available with another wave of free-agent signings coming as well. Beane acknowledged as much himself that an additional corner signing remains a possibility for Buffalo.

“It’s a long time until we play again in September. Teams… there’s going to be more corners out there between now and August and then again in September. We’ve got a lot of time before we play the first regular season game,” added Beane.

Last year, Buffalo brought in Norman who played in head coach Sean McDermott’s system when he was in Carolina. Norman inked a one-year $6 million pact with the Bills and could be a candidate to re-sign. Another option could be Richard Sherman, who has expressed admiration for the Bills.

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