CB: Terrence McGee (Aaron Williams)
SS: George Wilson (Bryan Scott)
FS: Jairus Byrd (John Corto)
CB: Leodis McKelvin (Drayton Florence)
The Bills have put up very respectable numbers against the pass over the last two seasons, finishing second and third overall in the league in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The thing is, when an offense can run for 200-plus yards against you with ease, they don't need to put much emphasis on the passing game, which is one of the main reasons for Buffalo's inflated ranking.
Buffalo has good talent and depth at the cornerback position, and it starts with Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee. McKelvin has undeniable skill, but like many other players on this squad, inconsistency has kept him from being a truly excellent corner. If he can turn the corner this season, the Bills could have the cornerstone of a special backfield in their midst. Veteran Terrence McGee is always solid, but he is starting to show his age, and he will only have one or two productive seasons left in the NFL.
That is one of the main reasons the front office took Aaron Williams out of Texas in the second round of the 2011 draft. Williams has the ability to step in and start right away, but thanks to Buffalo's depth at the position, he will be able to take his time getting acclimated to the pro game. Williams is known for his support in the run game, but his hands are starting to show as well, as he recorded his first interception against the Bears last week.
Free-agent Drayton Florence returns to the Bills for another season, and one could argue that he was Buffalo's best all-around corner in 2010. Although he is listed as a backup, Florence will see more than his fair share of playing time this season.
At the safety position, starter Donte Whitner made his exit this offseason, but he will be easily replaced by veteran George Wilson. Whitner may have racked up 140 tackles last year, but much of that was due to his own poor coverage skills. With just five interceptions in five seasons, Whitner will not be missed.
The free safety spot will be manned by third-year man Jairus Byrd. Byrd recorded just one interception in 2010, a year after he picked off nine passes, which may seem like a major letdown. However, Byrd made strides last year in his run defense, which was by far the weakest aspect of his game. Byrd is becoming a very well-rounded young safety.
The combination of veteran experience and young talent on this unit makes them very difficult to deal with for opposing offenses. However, this is not an elite group, and I would not be surprised at all to see their pass defense ranking fall this year, as the run defense has improved and teams will need to pass more on the Bills.