Inside The Bills

Graham signing done with Pats in mind

Posted by Chris Brown on March 19, 2014 – 8:45 am

The signing of Corey Graham may seem like an innocuous one on the surface, but its significance goes far deeper than that. The addition of Graham was done with the sole intention of trying to further neutralize a division rival’s potent and productive passing game.

As pointed out by ProFootballFocus’ Steve Palazzolo, the Graham signing was done in part to give Buffalo to dependable slot corners, pairing Graham with Nickell Robey. It was likely done to help increase the defense’s effectiveness in slowing Tom Brady and New England’s quick strike aerial game. Here’s how he assessed Buffalo’s personnel in the secondary now with Graham on board as it pertains specifically to the New England Patriots passing attack.

Graham has spent much of his time in the slot the last two seasons with the Ravens surrendering 1.18 and 1.01 yards/cover snap in the slot in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both of those numbers put Graham near the top of the league, but it’s what Buffalo already has on the roster that make him an interesting addition.

Current slot cornerback Nickell Robey is coming off a strong season as the undrafted rookie graded at +2.8 in coverage while surrendering only 0.87 yards/cover snap, good for sixth in the league. The Bills also have a pair of outside cornerbacks on the roster in Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin, so the addition of Graham gives the Bills two viable slot cornerbacks.

Why the redundancy? Look no further than the New England Patriots whose passing game generally runs through the slot. The Bills appear to be matching up with their division rival with hopes of finally overtaking the annual AFC East champion. There’s also a bit of added versatility in Buffalo’s secondary with Aaron Williams, a former cornerback, playing safety. When you throw in linebacker Kiko Alonso, one of last year’s top coverage linebackers at +11.3, the Bills will feature one of the most intriguing coverage units in the league.


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