Bills Roster Analysis: Lofton Exercise | Defensive Backs


The Buffalo Bills will be looking to upgrade their roster in this offseason via free agency and the NFL Draft, but how many new pieces do they actually need? Erik Turner, Aaron Quin, Greg Tompsett and I analyzed the entire roster and ranked the players in three tiers: can win games for us, can win with them, or need better. This is the Lofton Exercise.

After looking at the defensive line and the linebacker groups, it’s time to finish with the defensive side of the ball and rank the defensive backs. Here we go, Bills Mafia:

Tre’Davious White, CB

Can win games for us: 4 votes

The second-year cornerback is one of the three unanimous selections in this group. After a stellar rookie campaign in 2017, White played even better in 2018, constantly shadowing the opponents’ best receivers and having success.

The former LSU Tiger recorded 54 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions, and eight passes defended in 16 starts. He was a key cog in the 10th-ranked secondary in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and is a franchise cornerstone.

Micah Hyde, FS

Can win games for us: 4 votes

In his second season with the Bills,  Hyde couldn’t repeat the number of interceptions that made him an All-Pro in 2017, but his 58 tackles, one tackle for loss, two INTs, five passes defended, and one fumble recovery were enough to help Buffalo’s defense to emerge as one of the top units in the league. His 84.0 PFF overall grade was the best among Bills defensive backs.

Jordan Poyer, SS

Can win games for us: 4 votes

Poyer was the last unanimous choice in this group. The versatile safety again filled the stat sheet, recording 100 tackles (second on the team), nine tackles for loss,  three QB hits, two sacks, four INTs, six passes defended, one fumble forced, and one fumble recovered. He can do a bit of everything and allows Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier to get creative with their defensive looks.

Taron Johnson, CB

Can win games for us: 1 vote (Erik)

Can win with him: 3 votes

The 4th-round draft pick emerged as the team’s nickel cornerback, winning the battle against Phillip Gaines and never looking back. Despite playing through a shoulder injury, Johnson showed a lot of promise, playing well in coverage and showing brutal physicality stopping the run.  He finished the year with 42 tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit, one sack, one interception, one fumble forced, and three passes defended in 11 games. He should enter 2019 with the nickel CB spot locked down.

Levi Wallace, CB

Can win with him: 3 votes

Need better: 1 vote (Aaron)

The undrafted free agent out of Alabama received a shot after Phillip Gaines’s release and didn’t disappoint. According to PFF, he was the best rookie CB in the league, earning an 83.5 overall grade.

Wallace finished 2018 with 37 tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit, and three passes defended in seven games. He got better with playing time and finished the season strong. Can he keep the number two CB spot in 2019 and sneak into the top tier? Time will tell, but the early results were encouraging.

Need better group:

S Rafael Bush, CB Lafayette Pitts, CB Ryan Lewis, S Siran Neal, CB Denzel Rice

Despite this group receiving one total vote to be in the “can win with him” group (Greg), the consensus on them is that the Bills need better. The only other guy on this list who received meaningless snaps on defense was Lewis, but he couldn’t keep the job. Pitts is a special teams player, and Neal’s rookie season was almost a redshirt year. Rice is just an end-of-roster guy at this point.


This is a group loaded with three unquestioned top tier guys, then you have two promising young cornerbacks entering the second year of their careers with the potential to grow. Depth could be a problem here, and two additions via free agency and the Draft will be welcomed to shore up an already very good group.


*Mandatory Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports