Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 5/5/12

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball during the game against the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 31-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Yes, I get it.

Drayton Florence got burned a lot last year. I'm talking Freddy Kruggar burnt. I know some fans have never been able to get over his "It's a business" or he's a "business man" comments while others liked him because he Tweeted about the Bills Mafia. I don't care either way. Yes, he was a walking pass interference cornerback who played on a terrible defense. Terrible defense happens to be the key here. As I've maintained since the season ended, the Bills secondary was compromised because we couldn't get a pass rush to save our lives. Spencer Johnson and Arthur Moats on the edge will lead to your defense going over the edge. The pass rush stunk. Period. This was bascially the same secondary unit that was 2nd in the league in INTs in 2009 because they had a better pass rush. You can be an all-pro defensive back, but if you dont have a pass rush, it will kill your secondary...and this isn't a blanked statement either.

Take Deion Sanders.

Greatest CB of all-time, right? Here is where his pass defenses have ranked on the teams he's played on.

  • 1989: 19th
  • 1990: 28th
  • 1991: 20th
  • 1992: 22nd
  • 1993: 25th
  • 1994: 17th
  • 1995: 8th
  • 1996: 2nd
  • 1997: 1st
  • 1998: 22nd
  • 1999: 13th

I stopped at 2000 because that was when Deion was pretty much a shell of his former self. You'll notice that when Deion was in Atlanta, those pass defenses were terrible in a 28 team league mind you. Why did they stink so badly? Easy. The Atlanta Falcons had a terrible defense during those years because they had Oliver Barnett and Mike Gann rushing the QB. Things of course changed when Deion went to Dallas when he played on a stacked defense, which you could tell by the numbers. He had a d-line with Charles Haley and Leon Lett, which makes the secondary better.

In no way am I comparing Florence to Deion Sanders, but what I'm pointing out is that if your defensive line stinks, you pass defense is going to get compromised even if you have a HOF CB.

Another statement that seems to get thrown out is that rookie CBs drafted in the 1st round should start right away. I'm pretty sure even I have blurted that once or twice. That may seem like the correct notion because we live in the "Mel Kiper world" where draft picks come in to dominate, but that's not the case at all. Since 2006, 21 defensive backs have been selected in the 1st round and durning their rookie years these top prospects have started an average of 7 games.

  1. Patrick Peterson: 16 starts
  2. Prince Amukamara: 0 starts
  3. Jimmy Smith: 3 Starts
  4. Joe Haden: 7 starts
  5. Kareem Jackson: 16 starts
  6. Kyle Wilson: 6 starts
  7. Patrick Robinson: 4 starts
  8. Malcom Jenkins: 6 starts
  9. Vontae Davis: 9 starts
  10. Leodis McKelvin: 6 starts
  11. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: 11 starts
  12. Agib Talib: 2 starts
  13. Mike Jenkins: 3 starts
  14. Antoine Cason: 3 starts
  15. Darrelle Revis: 16 starts
  16. Leon Hall: 10 starts
  17. Aaron Ross: 10 starts
  18. Tye Hill: 10 starts
  19. Antonio Cromartie: 0 starts
  20. Johnathan Joseph: 9 starts
  21. Kelly Jennings: 2 starts

Obviously, there are some who started from day 1 while others seemed to get thrown into the fire late into the season or not at all. Only three players have started more than 11 games and 14 of the 21 players started less than 10 games. So, pump your breaks in thinking Gilmore starting from day 1 would be a foregone conclusion on any team in the NFL, because it is not.

What about Aaron Williams? I know some may think that Terrence McGee would be the #2 starter, but we all know he's getting hurt at some point. Here's a 2nd year guy in Williams who started six games last year and played OK for a rookie. Of course, we know that in Buffalo if you are a young upstart, a pass breakup is treated like Mike Jones tackling Kevin Dyson in SB34. We just love kids! Anyways, he's gonna start a lot and that's fine. Before they cut #29, I expected him to be the 2nd corner on the team. So, let us do the same thing we did with 1st round DBs and see how many starts a CB from the 2nd round started during their 2nd year from 2004 to the present.

  1. Chris Houston: 16 starts
  2. Eric Wright: 16 starts
  3. Josh Wilson: 12 starts
  4. Brandon Flowers: 15 starts
  5. Tracey Porter: 11 starts
  6. Pat Lee: 1 start
  7. Terrence Wheatley: 0 starts
  8. Terrell Thomas: 16 starts
  9. Alphonso Smith: 10 starts
  10. Darius Butler: 3 starts
  11. Sherrod Martin: 15 starts
  12. Sean Smith: 8 starts
  13. Javier Arenas: 1 start
  14. Corey Webster: 10 starts
  15. Ron Bartell: 1 start
  16. Darrent Williams: 14 starts
  17. Justin Miller: 4 starts
  18. Kelvin Hayden: 2 starts
  19. Bryant McFadden: 9 starts
  20. Ricardo Colclough: 0 starts
  21. Keiwan Ratliff: 3 starts
  22. Shawntae Spencer: 14 starts

That's an average of 8 starts per player. Nine players started more than 11 games from the list. It seems like there are more guys starting who are 2nd year guys than those who were diaper dandies. I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because you are an early draft choice, doesn't mean you are ALL starting from day 1.

I know this isn't the end of the world. I may be undercutting my piece because of my comment on the pass rush compromising the secondary. The secondary should be better because of the addition of Mario and Mark Anderson. However, it would have been better if #29 was still there. I also think it is strange when your GM comes out three weeks earlier to say that you can't have enough corners and then ends up cutting his most consistent CB over the last two years. If this was two years earlier, I would be fine with cutting a veteran because you were rebuilding and you want your young talent to take the reigns.

The problem is that we are entering a boom/bust season for the Bills. 6-10 or 7-9 isn't going to cut it for year 3 of a rebuilding project. I would have waited another year before I went into the youth movement of the secondary because this is such an important year.

The secondary would be better if you had Gilmore/Williams on the oppositions 2nd or 3rd best WR. Instead, you get Gilmore going up against the best WRs and that may be a little too much for a rookie. You also have a number of untested guys in the secondary and some with major concerns (McGee and McKelvin). We have already seen how injuries can plague the Bills in the past and I'm not really comfortable with relying on #24 and #21 if injuries come up.

Like Florence always says, the NFL is a business and that's why he got cut. The Bills didn't want to pay his 4-million dollar salary this season, which I think was pretty modest. I know some are saying that his salary will probably go into re-signing Levitre/Jackson/Byrd, but two of the three aren't free agents until next year. I just happen to think you  should have cut the fat with losing the likes of Kelsay, Dwan Edwards and Terrence McGee over Florence because I just think he's a better player of the three.

I'm not thrilled about the move and maybe I shouldn't have written so much about it. Frankly, I was curious to see how many rookie CBs or 2nd year guys start from year 1 or year 2, which I thought the number would be a lot higher.

I'll be sure to write a piece come September if the young kids play well and prove that Florence getting cut was worth it. 

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