What the Bills Need:
Comparing this Bills’ offseason to last year’s, there are not as many critical holes that need to be filled. There are clearly a couple of spots that need upgrades but bringing in more competition at key positions is definitely an important item on the off-season checklist.
At the end of the season, it was apparent that the cornerback position was pretty thin due to injuries to Levi Wallace week 17 and then Taron Johnson during the playoff game against the Texans. That left the defense in a compromising position which is not ideal in the playoffs.
The early middle rounds of this year’s draft are a great opportunity to add competition to the Bills’ already lockdown secondary. The acquisition of Jeff Gladney from TCU could add much-needed cornerback depth to this defense.
Gladney played outside cornerback for TCU in their 3-3-5 base defense. They primarily ran a cover 3 zone scheme and Gladney always followed the other team’s best receiver. He is a physical corner who attacks the catch point and has good play recognition.
Instincts, Closing Speed and Zone:
When dropping back in zone Gladney was typically asked to cover the deep third of the field. His ability to read the quarterback and diagnose route concepts is remarkable. He’s athletic for the position and has good change of direction which allowed him to flow with the quarterback’s eyes to close zones.
When sitting in underneath coverage Gladney is able to anticipate throws and close on targets above him. He has an innate feel for when to break on the ball and that’s a difficult thing to teach.
He can sometimes carry his man too far and leave gaps open in the flats for running backs and flat routes. While this is a problem, it could be coached out of him by an all-pro corner and Coach McDermott. His closing speed on targets is another impressive trait that stands out when you watch his film. He has good speed with refined technique and can quickly transition out of his backpedal to attack the catch point.
Off-Man and Press:
One of Gladney’s weak points is when he is in off-man coverage. He gives too much of a cushion and can be beat on double moves in this phase of the game. Again, coaching is a big factor here and also knowing game tendencies. If he is brought into the Bills’ secondary, I’m sure he could clean this up rather quickly. Nonetheless, he is still athletic enough to make a play on the ball while in off-man. He can consistently stick to receivers on breaks and be disruptive in this play style.
While in press, Gladney really shows off his smooth hips and toughness. He has long arms for being barely a 6-foot corner and plays with a combination of physicality and balance at the line of scrimmage. His speed allows him to stick with receivers going upfield and on crossing routes. When the balls in the air, he has the leaping ability to break up the deep targets and 50/50 balls.
Although there are other looming needs on this Bills roster, it is always a good thing to add secondary depth. Cornerback Jeff Gladney is a tough, athletic corner who would fit the Bills’ defensive scheme and mentality. The Bills might look to add a good corner in the middle of the draft who would come at a cheaper price since the contract of Tre’davious White is coming. Gladney would fit perfectly into the Bills zone scheme defense and also add solid man coverage ability too.