As you may have heard, the Buffalo Bills have traded away second year cornerback Kevon Seymour to the Carolina Panthers for a 2019 7th round pick and wide receiver Kaelin Clay.
If there was one corner whom I thought might struggle in Sean McDermott’s defense, it was Seymour. He is purely a mirror, man cover corner. He’s a defender who loves to use his speed and athleticism to get into the hip pocket of the receiver opposite him. Be that as it may, he’s a damn good cover guy because he can turn and run with anyone.
3rd 14. Gilmore vs James Wright. On another note, I like how Seymour played the slot WR. pic.twitter.com/BCcif6zsVB— Cover 1 (@Cover1) November 22, 2016
As far as man technique, he has that down pat; from all reports out of Carolina, the Panthers want to play more man coverage this season than in years past.
Seymour is the opposite of a physical or disruptive corner, both of which are traits that McDermott has stressed at the position since being hired. In 95 run snaps last season, Seymour registered 3 tackles and a 1.1 run tackle rating which was tied for 103rd overall. He did excel in coverage in the 177 passing snaps that he played, only allowing 12 receptions on 22 targets. That breaks down to a reception every 14.8 coverage snaps, tied for 8th overall.
The issue that arose was that Seymour wasn’t going to steal the starting corner spot opposite Tre White, and he just isn’t a fit to play the slot due to his lack of physicality and tackling acumen. This is an area in which Leonard Johnson is hands-down the superior player.
The Bills received an apparent deep threat in Clay and quite the returner, to boot. Clay was part of the 2015 draft class from Utah, but he has only appeared in seven games, never having registered a reception during the regular season.
Since entering the league, Clay has returned 15 kicks for 371 yards (24.7 avg.), which includes a long of 39. As a punt returner, he has returned 23 for 244 yards (10.6 avg.) and this touchdown.
Clay is a compact player that possesses decent quickness off the line of scrimmage.
He displays some wiggle and elusiveness that the Bills could use on WR screens, an element to Dennison’s offense that Bills fans are looking forward to. Clay forced two missed tackles on his six receptions. Getting him the ball quickly could pay off; he obviously has some skills with the ball in his hands, or else he wouldn’t be such a threat in the return game.
But the element to his game that will help the Bills’ offense the most is his ability to stretch the defense. Clay was targeted seven times and hauled in six catches for 127 yards (21.2 avg).
Versus the Titans, as soon as he releases and gets vertical he knows he is unguarded, so he puts his hand up and breaks to the sideline for the 33-yard reception.
Mockdraftable has him running the forty in 4.51 pic.twitter.com/PyZ7qgXtsT— Cover 1 (@Cover1) September 2, 2017
His longest reception, a 47-yard catch, came against the Steelers in the final week of preseason play, a game in which he caught 3 passes for 76 yards. Clay displays good body control; he is able to maintain his stride with his eyes up, tracking the ball. He even manages to change his path to the ball and appears to hit another gear as he realizes the ball is thrown more vertically away from the safety.
I really don’t have an issue with this move. I believe the offense needed a deep threat badly, and I believe they have good depth at the corner position. More importantly, they have the types of guys that not only fit the system, but also who play with the same mentality that former DB Sean McDermott demands.
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