The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Kentucky safety A.J. Stamps.
Stamps made the transition in 2014 from JUCO player to starter in the SEC over the course of spring practice and didn’t look back, accumulating 57 tackles (1 for loss), 9 PBUS and 4 interceptions. In 2015, the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 didn’t change his production for the Wildcats with 67 tackles (0.5 tackle for loss), 8 PBUs and 1 interception.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
A.J. Stamps Physical Attributes/Athleticism
At 6′ and a shade over 200 pounds, Stamps has a great frame for safety or corner. In terms of deep speed, while he isn’t the fastest, his ability to close on a receiver and/or a runner is solid.
A.J. Stamps Run Support
Stamps will get his nose dirty in the run game, which is helpful in a Ryan defense. My expectations for a free safety is to prevent the deep ball – and if in doing so has to step in from time to time and make tackles vs the run so be it. At that threshold Stamps is more than adequate making tackles against the run.
For the Bills – the need may be at free safety, but if Rex Ryan can have a safety that is interchangeable, that would allow for a lot of flexibility for the Ryans and Dennis Thurman with regard to how they move some of those secondary pieces around the board.
However, the difficulty with Stamps in such situations is that his tackling will leave him prone to “surviving” a run over situation.
A.J. Stamps Coverage Ability
Stamps at times is flat footed on deep balls, but on the whole he’s a solid FS. When he gets a read on the QB – plays like this can happen:
Against a bigger TE type body, Stamps’ lack of pop shows a bit. While he gets his man down in this video clip, he’s a Gronk forearm away from being on a highlight tape:
A.J. Stamps Pass Rush
Playing primarily as a free safety Stamps wasn’t used a lot in the blitz/rush game. Because of that I cannot give an opinion one way or another for his skills blitzing. I will say, based on his tackling in general I think he’d be fine, but Big Ben types may shrug him off.
Potential Fit with the Buffalo Bills
Because of the Bills current need at safety, it would be easy to pencil A.J. Stamps in – but to me he may be better dime corner in Rex’s defense. My reasoning is simple: with his transition to JUCO to SEC and now SEC to a Rex Ryan NFL defense it would be deleterious to his confidence and career if he’s the starting Free Safety out of the gate. Coaching will help with the occasional coverage gaffes, but can that come together in his first year? While in time I think Stamps would be solid there, learning the corner position and being put in position to succeed at both safety and corner long-term. In the short term, you might need a stop gap at FS, but I’d rather do that than put Stamps in a position to fail.