With training camp around the corner, there are quite a few players on the team ready to make a leap in their progression as athletes in the National Football League. At BillsMafia.com, we picked 10 players that are poised to breakout and produce at a high level.
Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks as we breakdown the 10 Buffalo Bills that are poised for breakout years in 2013!
The second breakout player (editor’s note: click here for breakout player #1) of the 2013 Buffalo Bills will be linebacker Nigel Bradham. Bradham was a fourth round draft pick last year out of Florida State. Initially, Bradham primarily played special teams, before seeing his defensive snaps increase as the season went on.
Bradham finished the 2012 season with 57 tackles while playing the strong side linebacker position. In defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s hybrid 3-4 defense, Bradham has the versatility and athleticism to perform at a high level at multiple positions.
Bradham’s statistics didn’t tell the whole story of how good he was as a rookie, as he was extremely productive against the run during his rookie season. He recorded 24 stops versus the run, despite playing just 229 run snaps, ranking his as ProFootballFocus’ 14th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker.
Furthermore, Nigel was a sure tackler, missing one tackle per 12.8 attempts, good for 18th among all 4-3 outside linebackers.
Bradham brings the versatility that the new coaching staff has been preaching, meaning he will likely be one of the key starters in the new defensive scheme. Bradham is arguably the most athletic linebacker on the Bills’ roster, meaning he can play anywhere from the TED (weak side inside linebacker), WILL (weak side linebacker), SAM (strong side linebacker) and the MIKE (strong side inside linebacker).
The 6’2” 240 pounder also made huge contributions on special teams, recording nine tackles on kick and punt coverage last season, ranking him ninth among 632 qualifying players.
In Coach Pettine’s defense, Bradham will likely be moved around, playing a variety of roles as the team transitions into more of a nickel base that will feature both 3-4 and 4-3 looks.
Bradham’s athleticism and ability to play multiple positions at a high level gives him the chance to be the most productive player on the Bills’ defense in 2013.
As a fourth round draft pick, he contributed far more than expected as a rookie and his future only looks brighter heading into the 2013 season.
Nigel Bradham Projected Stat Line: 95 Tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 FF, INT