2015: Ronald Darby
A lot has been said about coach Rex Ryan. No matter your opinion of him as a head coach, he has always been widely regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the game. So, when he left the New York Jets to head to Buffalo, New York, we knew he wouldn’t step away from what he does best. We knew he would look to build a defense in his image.
His first pick with the Bills came in the second round of the 2015 draft. With that pick came cornerback Ronald Darby. He was projected to go either in the second or third round, and here was the bottom line analysis from his draft profile:
"Cover corner with average size and outstanding speed. Has shown the instincts to play off coverage and the athleticism to play press. It is a bit of a concern that scouts and even opposing coaches have commented on Darby’s toughness, but he doesn’t have very many missed or broken tackles on his docket and his cover skills should be prioritized over his run support regardless. He clearly has starter’s ability at the position."
Darby did start right away, starting 15 games at the cornerback position as a rookie. He notched two interceptions, 21 passes defended and 68 total tackles. In a November matchup with the Miami Dolphins, he was all over the field, posting ten solo tackles.
Darby followed up in 2016 with 69 total tackles and 12 passes defended. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second best cornerback in run defense with a grade of 86.3, higher than the likes of Aqib Talib and our own Brent Grimes.
Not bad for a second round pick.