Poyer, a seventh-round pick in 2013, started his career off at cornerback. He was waived after training camp by the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent three years as a tweener on the Cleveland Browns, moving back and forth from special-teams ace to full-time starter.
Entering 2022, things couldn't be better for Poyer. He's coming off an All-Pro season and is ready to pick thing ups where he left off - same as the Bills, who hope to again be the bullies of the AFC East. This season, he also wants to be more of a leader in the locker room, pushing those who've had similar stories making it to the pros.
One of those prospects looking for a home is Nick McCloud. On the Inside the Garage Podcast with Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton, plus Notre Dame players Cam Hart, KJ Wallace and Conor Ratigan, the 31-year-old praised McCloud, seeing the same traits he possessed while forcing his way into a starting role with the Browns.
“Really good dude. Hard worker, man,” Poyer said. “I always tell him he always reminds me of myself. Just a guy maybe who’s been overlooked. Maybe having to come in and be on the (practice squad). Coming in and just have to earn your way up. I’ve seen his growth from year one to year two."
A former starter for the Fighting Irish, McCloud joined Buffalo following the 2021 NFL Draft, but was waived prior to the start of the season. He was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals and even was elevated to the active roster for part of the season.
In November, McCloud was cut and later picked up by Buffalo. Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane saw something in him worth keeping around for the start of OTAs, signing him to a reserve/future contract following the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs.
Buffalo needs depth at safety behind Poyer and Pro Bowler Micah Hyde. This spring, McCloud has taken reps at both safety spots in defensive coordinator's Leslie Frazier's zone-heavy formation. Poyer considers him an athlete who can play a variety of positions in the secondary.
"They got him playing corner. They got him playing safety," Poyer said. "He’s just an athlete. That’s a guy that you gotta respect and a guy that you root for, too."
McCloud faces an uphill battle in hopes of making the final 53-man squad. Poyer faced the same adversity when trying to make the Browns. Finding a role on special teams made Poyer valuable. It could be what keeps McCloud in the eyes of McDermott and the staff prior to cuts come early September.
When Poyer speaks, defenders listen. McCloud has been ears open since his return to Orchard Park. Now, he has Poyer in his corner.
Said Poyer: "I really enjoy being around Nick and I’m hoping for the best for him.”