Ex-Buckeye Whitner will have to fight for his starting spot.
In the 2006 NFL Draft, a titter went through the room when the Bills picked Donte Whitner with their first pick. Now, it looks like Whitner is going to have to fight off a challenge from 07 6th round pick John Wendling.
By Bill Smith
Whitner was not fast enough to be an NFL corner and very few safeties get drafted in the first round. But Whitner was their guy and he started most of the season at strong safety. He started 14 of the 15 games in which he played in 06 and all 15 games he played in 07. The problem was that he and the D Backfield in total did not produce.
The lack of production was not all the fault of the backfield. The Bills have not gotten anything close to enough pressure on the QB. A pass rush generates interceptions. Even so, in a total of 29 starts, Whitner got only 2 interceptions. During the 2008 season he lost his SS spot to 07 FA Bryan Scott. Whit moved to FS and started there the rest of the season.
Prior to training camp for the Bills, Scott seems entrenched at SS. However Wendling is coming on strong at the FS spot and Whit just has not developed into a player that could justify a first round selection. Wendling came out of Wyoming with a late 3rd or early 4th round grade. I really liked him not only because he had a high football IQ but also because he was a force against the run. The Bills had a great draft in 07 that included Wendling in the 6th round. Whitner is going to have to have an above average training camp to keep his job. Because he is paid a lot more than Wendling, Whit will lose all ties with the upstart.
If Whit loses his FS job, he will probably be traded or released to save salary cap space. His former OSU team mate Ashton Youboty (3rd round 06) came on so strong last season that if AY is healthy, he will be the nickel back.
The Bills pass rush will be better this year assuming DE Aaron Schobel comes back from his foot injury and pass rush LB Alvin Bowen recovers from ACL surgery. That should help the Bills pass defense. But Whitner has to really step up to keep his job let alone his starting spot.
That's what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for http://NFLDraftDog.com and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library/Contemporary/Author.cfm?AuthorID=1003 and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.blog.com.