ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — It didn’t take long for newly drafted Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby to experience his first “welcome to the AFC East” moment.
A day after being selected in the second round of the NFL draft, the Florida State product was enjoying his first visit to the Bills’ facility when Tom Brady’s name came up Saturday.
Darby said he had not given much thought to the prospect of facing the New England Patriots quarterback twice a season.
“I was just happy I was here,” he said, before breaking into a laugh. “But thanks for reminding me. I’m going to think of it now.”
After sitting out the first round, the Bills placed a premium on adding depth to their defensive backfield by selecting Darby with the 50th pick. In the third round, they addressed an immediate need by selecting Louisville guard John Miller.
Buffalo closes with four selections on Saturday, starting with No. 155.
Darby, the ACC’s 2012 rookie of the year, is a speedster and adept at covering receivers one-on-one. Those are a key attributes among cornerbacks playing under new Bills coach Rex Ryan, who took over after Doug Marrone stepped down after last season.
Darby modeled his game after cornerback Darrelle Revis, who became a star playing for Ryan with the New York Jets.
On Saturday, Darby had an opportunity to meet with Ryan, and is looking forward to picking his brain.
“It’s a blessing,” Darby said. “He can teach me some things that he told (Revis), and I can pick up on it fast and help me take my game to the next level.”
The initial expectation is for Darby to compete for a prime backup spot behind starters Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin.
General manager Doug Whaley noted Ryan’s teams can never be short on defensive backs. And after a busy offseason of adding high-profile players, including running back LeSean McCoy, Whaley is approaching the draft with an eye on keeping up with the Bills’ division rivals.
“We’ve got to keep up with the arms race,” Whaley said.
Brady and the Patriots have long set the bar during a 14-season run in which they’ve won four Super Bowls and 12 division crowns. It’s also a stretch during which Buffalo has beaten New England just three times, including a meaningless season finale last year.
But it’s not just Brady, the Bills are seeking to contain.
As Whaley noted, the Jets and Miami Dolphins have been busy stocking up on talent this offseason.
Aside from signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency, the Dolphins improved their receivers by adding Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills and tight end Jordan Cameron.
The Jets added veteran receiver Brandon Marshall, and used their first two draft picks on defensive end Leonard Williams and receiver Devin Smith.
This marks the first draft under the Bills new owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the team in October from the estate of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March 2014.
The Pegulas were present in the Bills draft room this weekend, and met with Darby upon his arrival. Before posing for photos with Darby on the Ralph Wilson Stadium field, Terry Pegula had a lengthy discussion with Whaley.
Pegula was also well-versed with the prospects.
When a reference was made to “the Duke offensive guard,” Pegula immediately said, “Laken Tomlinson,” who was drafted 28th by Detroit.