What Can Jairus Byrd Do for the Buffalo Bills?

Michael McMastersCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 03: Jairus Byrd #32 of the Oregon Ducks looks on before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Autzen Stadium on November 3, 2007 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Sun Devils 35-23. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Anybody remember last season's NFL Divisional Playoffs?

What did all four teams have in common? 

The Cardinals, Eagles, Ravens, and Steelers all had great safeties on their rosters.

We are talking guys that make big plays and single-handedly shifted the game's momentum to their team's favor.

Good safeties are usually found on great defenses. 

Whether it’s delivering the big hit or snatching the ball out of the air, safeties are the most important defensive backs on the field on any given play, which is why the Buffalo Bills decided to make Jairus Byrd the 42nd overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.

While playing for Oregon the past three years, Byrd has managed to intercept 17 passes, defend 55 passes, and rack up 203 tackles—143 solo.

Not bad for the son of Gill Byrd, a two-time Pro-Bowler for the Chargers.

Compare those numbers to Ed Reed when he played for Miami and there is reason to get excited. Of course, you have to temper your expectations—the pros is a whole different level of football.

It certainly helps that his mentor is long-time standout, DB Aeneas Williams. If Byrd could come close to matching what Williams did for the Rams, the Bills have something special on their squad.

What helps Byrd’s overall game and his projected position switch is that he takes good angles to the ball and studies film, which makes him play faster than his timed speed. He is a solid technician and a quick learner, so making the transition from corner to safety shouldn’t be difficult.

The Bills are in desperate need of a guy with some ball-hawking skills, and outsiders and maybe even some fans were shocked with the selection, but let’s face it—the Bills had a grand total of 10 interceptions last year—they can use all the help they can get.

Just to put that number in perspective, Reed had nine interceptions last year. Clearly the Bills need somebody with that type of impact if they want to have a dominating defense.

The only question is, can Byrd be the guy to do it?

Come training camp, Byrd will be given every opportunity to win the starting free safety spot now occupied by Donte Whitner, but the feeling at One Bills Drive is they like Whitner better at the strong safety position.

Wherever Byrd fits, it should prove to be exciting to watch—that is if he dominates like he did while at Oregon.