“I feel like the game has slowed down for me. From my reads and everything like that. It’s just one of those things that where you just get comfortable and you’re just in it. I don’t know. It’s just some type of zone.” –Nigel Bradham
The 8th ranked defensive team last season with a charismatic head coach with a taste for blitzing? It could be fun in Buffalo next season. The Bills have high hopes after hiring Rex Ryan, acquiring LeSean McCoy via trade and signing free agent receiver Percy Harvin. Rex loves to run the ball, so getting one of the best running backs was a dream come true but it cost the team 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year Kiko Alonso. Even though he missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL, the Bills had no shortage of talent on the 8th ranked defense.
With Alonso out, the team turned to Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham along with veteran Brandon Spikes to get the job done at linebacker. Brown was rookie and Spikes was a free agent addition, so 3rd year LB Bradham, a 4th round pick out of Florida State in 2012 was the longest tenured LB on the Bills roster at the time of Alonso’s injury and had disappointed up to that point in his career.
After camp, Bradham eventually was named a starter at outside linebacker but was suspended for the first game of 2014 for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. After the incident he was inserted back into the starting lineup.
Through 12 games, Bradham was the 4th ranked 4-3 OLB according to Pro Football Focus. He struggled is his final few games of the 2014, but showed flashes of brilliance in run support, coverage and blitzing situations. His performance coupled with that of Preston Brown made Kiko Alonso expendable as he was traded for LeSean McCoy.
With Rex Ryan coming in and the Bills switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense, Bradham will move from OLB to MLB and more than likely be the guy that will be getting the Bills lined up correctly on defense this upcoming season. He is also very versatile and you should anticipate seeing him line up all over the field. Under Rex Ryan’s tutelage, Nigel Bradham is a name you should expect to hear a lot more of heading into the 2015 season, as he is an ideal breakout candidate.
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