When the Bills drafted Aaron Williams in the 2nd round in 2011 out of Texas I had no real expectations. The Bills had been searching for talent in the secondary for years and had numerous swings and misses. Aaron’s first few years were a struggle. He would go on to log 64 tackles and 1 interception in first two years combined. Then in the 2012 off-season Jairus Byrd was a holdout due to stalled contract talks and the Bills found themselves in need of a strong safety. In stepped Aaron and a star was born.
Throughout training camp that year it was clear that Aaron had worked extremely hard on his craft. But was he prepared to make the change to safety after playing his entire career at cornerback? Williams answered his critics with a resounding yes. His 2013 stat line dwarfed his first two years with the Bills: 82 tackles, 4 picks and a forced fumble. Williams offers rare versatility now being able to fill a cornerback role in sub-packages moving from his now natural safety position. In a year where the defense had a number of stars, he was clearly the most improved player on the field. I guarantee if people outside of Buffalo didn’t know the name Aaron Williams before this year, they will soon.
So while Jairus Byrd was off signing a 6 year, 54 million dollar contract with the Saints, I was telling friends not to worry. I firmly believe that we are watching a star in the making. The Bills made a great move and locked up Williams this off-season with a 4 year, 26 million dollar deal. The move gave the Bills some flexibility and allowed them to bring in free agents like Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers. Williams will move over to Safety and Da’Norris Searcy, another talented young player out of North Carolina will flank him at the strong safety position. Searcy is another player who has made great strides in the past few years and he will be looked to as more of a leader in the secondary this year.
This article is by no means an attempt at dismissing the talents and efforts of Jairus Byrd. He was a very good player for Buffalo, but it was clear last year that he did not want to be here any longer. With Aaron’s breakout season and more young talent in Searcy and the hard hitting Duke Williams battling for time, the option to let Byrd walk became more viable. These young players thrive on being part of the solution here in Buffalo and that can only be good for a locker room.
Before signing off I would just like to congratulate Andre Reed on his induction in the Hall of Fame. They simply do not make wide receivers like Andre anymore. Congrats #83! Below is his entire Hall of Fame speech in case you missed it.