Buffalo Bills Defense: Surprising Young Talent Could Mean Surprise Cuts

Timothy YoungCorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 17:  Ashlee Palmer #11 of the Mississippi Rebels celebrates after a tackle against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Hollingsworth Field November 17, 2007 in Oxford, Mississippi. LSU beat Mississippi 41-24.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)


Many names have been frequenting Buffalo Bills lead writer Chris Brown's blogs of organized team activities (OTA's). Trent Edwards, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Kawika Mitchell, Fred Jackson, Ellis Lankster, Ashlee Palmer...


Defensive back Ellis Lankster and linebacker Ashlee Palmer? 

The Bills' seventh round pick out of WVU in 2009 and an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, respectively, have been making some plays and turning coaches' heads these past few weeks, but coaches aren't the only ones noticing.

Bills fans aren't too shocked that late round and undrafted players make noise for the organization. Names like Derek Schouman, Stevie Johnson, Demetrius Bell, John DiGiorgio, and Jon Corto are some late round to undrafted names that still find comfort at One Bills Drive.

Although OTAs are usually too early to gauge how well a player can play in pads or at full speed, it's still an indication of mental stability and awareness. 

Many Bills fans remember Martin Nance, a wide receiver UDFA for the Bills in '06, flashed his go-to brilliance from college that netted Ben Roethlisberger a first round selection (both played for Miami of Ohio), but when the pads were on, he couldn't keep up the pace.

On an opposite note, a name from last year that is participating in what is hoping to be his "true" rookie season is linebacker Alvin Bowen, who tore his ACL last year prior to full camp.

Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell has kept a sharp eye on the tackling machine out of Iowa State this year, even going so far as to state that when now Tampa Bay Bucaneer Angelo Crowell went down with an injury last year, he could've seen Bowen step quickly into the spot, rather than former sixth round pick Keith Ellison.

Alongside Bowen in most of the drills has been middle linebacker John DiGiorgio, the undrafted player in 2006 out of Saginaw Valley State who started 13 games for the Bills in '07 after then starting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny went down with an injury. He proved why he deserved to be in the NFL, notching 113 tackles, two sacks, and an interception in the 13 starts.

Could Ashlee Palmer be this years John DiGiorgio for Buffalo? With so many question marks within the linebacking corp, he could make it, but has to beat out Bowen, Corto, Ellison, free agent pick up Pat Thomas, second year player Marcus Buggs, and rookie project Nic Harris in no sure order.

Ellis Lankster, on the other hand, has a bit of a longer leash to work with.

With Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin seeming locks to man the starting corner jobs, it's a list of maybes beyond that.

A healthy Ashton Youboty proves to be a capable threat, as he showed early on last year before getting placed on the IR. Second year surprise pick Reggie Corner compliments his last name admirably, and did so when called upon in '08, as he has also done in OTAs this year.

Journeyman Drayton Florence seemed to be a steal last year in free agency for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but has done little of what was expected of him since. The other corners on the roster are fifth year man Dustin Fox and fellow rookies Lydell Sargeant and Cary Harris.

If Florence can't convert to his San Diego playing days and Youboty can't stay healthy, Ellis Lankster may be the fifth or sixth corner on the depth chart day one.

Lydell Sargeant is another name that should be kept close to a Bills followers ears, since he has also been an impressive physical specimen and ball hawk in OTAs.

It will be no easy task, but if these players can show Perry Fewell and the rest of the coaches in pads what they did in organized activities, the 53-man roster may be within their grasp.