Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Bryan Scott's position: Where should we start?

By Tim Graham

ScottMugPITTSFORD -- Bryan Scott is the Buffalo Bills' defensive thingamajig.

He entered the NFL as a cornerback, has been a safety and this year has been fully switched to linebacker. A few oddball assignments have been mixed in along the way.

"I like it," Scott said with a beaming smile after a recent practice at St. John Fisher College. "I think I might be the first guy in NFL history to go from corner to safety to linebacker. I might have to look into that."

Let's throw defensive end on the pile, while we're at it. Scott officially lined up at left defensive end last season in Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins. He also opened the season as the starting left cornerback and started three games at linebacker.

That's quite a spread. But Scott can't say he wasn't warned. While he visited teams as a Penn State cornerback before the 2003 NFL draft, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil made a fascinating prediction.

"Dick Vermeil said 'I see you playing linebacker before your career's over,' " Scott said. "I don't know if he figured the game was going to evolve to where a big corner would be the size of a linebacker. But he called it."

Scott always has been listed as a defensive back with the Bills, but this summer he's designated an outside linebacker. He doesn't go to meetings with the defensive backs anymore.

He has been shifted around over the years because of his size and athleticism. He's listed at 6 foot 1 and 220 pounds. At the time he entered the NFL, 6-foot cornerbacks weren't common.

Three of the six Pro Bowl cornerbacks that season were under 6 feet. Dre Bly was 5-9. In 2004, three of the six Pro Bowl cornerbacks were 5-10 or shorter. In 2005, only one Pro Bowl cornerback was a 6-footer.

Last season, only one Pro Bowl cornerback was not at least 6 feet tall.

But as coaches have come to prefer taller corners to compete with power-forward receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, those corners still must maintain their speed. They're not bruisers.

To wrangle some of the elite tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, coaches need a few players who possess a combination of height (to defend), bulk (so they don't get run over) and speed (so they don't get left in the dust).

A player who's stronger than a cornerback and faster than a linebacker will have a role, and Scott is happy to go wherever the matchup warrants. For instance, in 2009, Scott was the starting strong safety on opening day and for the first three games. By the end of the season he had started six straight games at weak-side linebacker.

So what about defensive tackle?

"Who knows?" Scott said. "If they needed me to move inside, hey, I'm all for it. If they need me to put my hand in the dirt, why not?"

comments powered by Disqus

About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |