ESPN thinks this Bills rookie ended up in 'perfect landing spot'

ESPN has identified second-round safety Cole Bishop's fit with the Buffalo Bills as one of the 2024 NFL Draft's most advantageous.
Nov 25, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Colorado Buffaloes running back Dylan Edwards (3) gets
Nov 25, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Colorado Buffaloes running back Dylan Edwards (3) gets / Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t write your Buffalo Bills depth chart predictions in pen.

The team, as a whole, saw significant turnover in the 2024 NFL offseason, moving on from stalwart starters at several positions in an attempt to reset the team’s on-field and financial clocks. Perhaps no position group was more heavily impacted by the maneuvers than the secondary; the team moved on from veterans Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer, who have combined for 284 starts for the Bills over the past seven seasons.

There’s continuity at cornerback in the form of Christian Benford and Rasul Douglas, but there appears to be a bit of uncertainty at safety; Taylor Rapp returns to Buffalo after serving as a depth option last season, with he and the recently-signed Mike Edwards seemingly set to man the Bills’ defensive backline. 

But don’t get too comfortable in that assessment.

Buffalo selected Utah safety Cole Bishop with the 60th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, adding an intriguing chess piece who not only immediately serves as the team’s strongest depth option, but almost assuredly pencils in as a long-term starter. The versatile athlete, who notched 197 tackles, 12 pass deflections, and three interceptions throughout his time in Utah, seems to be a tailor-made scheme fit for the Bills’ defense, an interchangeable safety who can be deployed from several areas of the field.

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Bishop’s talent and presumptive fit in Buffalo’s defense have led many to project him as an immediate starter for the team, potentially pushing either Rapp or Edwards straight away. This sentiment is shared by ESPN’s Matt Bowen, who recently highlighted Bishop in an article breaking down the best rookie fits and landing spots of the 2024 draft; the writer is a fan of the safety’s versatility, feeling as though he has an opportunity to make an immediate impact in Buffalo.

“Bishop is at his best when playing with forward vision at the second and third levels of the field, and he joins a Bills defense that aligned in two-high on a 56.3% of coverage snaps last season, the most in the league,” Bowen wrote. “It will allow Bishop to drive top-down on the ball and attack the alleys as a run defender.

“When the Bills do spin to single-high coverage, Bishop can play as an enforcer underneath. Buffalo moved on from safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, so the door is open for Bishop to play an impact role as a rookie. He had 59 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions last season, doing a little bit of everything.

It’ll be interesting to watch how Buffalo immediately uses Bishop, who logged 247 snaps at free safety and 181 in the box for the Utes last season, per Pro Football Focus. Likely a definite starter in 2025, he could carve out a significant role as a rookie should he be able to replicate some of the prowess recently displayed by Hyde and Poyer; the 21-year-old has already been watching tape of the two to learn what they brought to the defense.

"Every play you're trying to learn, you're watching on film and it's those guys,” Bishop told reporters following the first day of the Bills’ 2024 rookie minicamp. “They're great players obviously. They did a ton of good things here for a really long time, so it's good to watch.”

Kyle Silagyi