Today’s #MCM focuses on a bit of a variety pack defensively – one player at each level of the field. As the Bills look for draft fits for the incoming scheme change from a Ryan Family 3-4/46 hybrid to the one-gapping McDermott 4-3 players are needed to make the transition as smooth as possible. The Johnsons (Jaleel and John) and Duke Riley would do just that.
Jaleel Johnson (6’4, 310 lbs) from Illinois is a tackle I think fits what McDermott wanted in Carolina – power pigs that can get a quarterback off his landmark with pressure from the A gaps. Duke Riley (6’1, 230 lbs) from LSU is a linebacker that can fit well in the Will position and get sideline to sideline. John Johnson (6′ 205 lbs) from Boston College is a solid choice for either safety spot or playing in the hybrid Buffalo nickel position. Together, they’d make for one heck of a “spine” of the Bills defense.
Where They Win
Jaleel Johnson is the “heavy” of the group, and that’s not just because he’s a defensive tackle. I really enjoyed watching him when I scouted him on The Bills Wire, primarily because he would get skinny just as much as he’d throw linemen like children when fresh.
Walking the right guard back was good enough; the shove and the Superman leap for a sack? That’s spicy. Johnson isn’t going to make plays like this every down – few tackles can – but seeing the strength and athleticism in a game is enough for me to say “I can see him repeat that in the pro game”, which is enough for me to get really excited about him in red, white and blue.
Riley is a prototypical LSU undersized-but-feisty linebacker. This play vs. Ole Miss is more a testament to his staying with the receiver and making a stop in bounds to keep the clock moving than superlative coverage ability:
This tackle for loss however? That’s solid:
John Johnson is just, solid. That’s the only word that I can come up with the former BC safety. When it comes to tackling:
And ball skills:
A lot is made of the idea of ball skills being assumed, that is to say “why wouldn’t a receiver catch a ball?” – but when I talk about ball skills for a defensive back, it’s a play like this. Not every DB is going to be in position to make that tip catch, nor will many make the actual catch and run. Joe Goodberry does a great job on his feed breaking down some of the “draft speak” and how the phrases can have meaning without being cliche.
All three players aren’t going to get first round chatter, but all three provide very specific skills that in concert would make the Bills defense that much better.
How They Fit
For the Bills all three have ready-made spots. Jaleel would make for a great spell for both Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. His ability to play one or three technique would allow for positional flexibility and extend the career of #95.
For Riley, he’s walking right into the Will linebacker position – and filling the role well. Duke’s athleticism, coupled with Reggie Ragland and the do-it-all Lorenzo Alexander would make for an eclectic and effective linebacking trio in Buffalo.
And for Johnson, he would allow the Bills flexibility in how new Bills safety Micah Hyde is used – both as a safety and as that hybrid nickel. Johnson can also play the hybrid exclusively year one and provide depth to Hyde deep.
Ultimately, this week I won’t put a poll up, because I think given the Bills’ current draft picks they could walk away with all three players. Should that happen, I’d be ecstatic, because I truly believe individually – they can help. But as a group, they would be a great young nucleus to fit into the future of the Buffalo Bills defense.