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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Ryan's defense can always use another cornerback. And the new Bills coach's plan to introduce a run-first approach to Buffalo's retooled LeSean McCoy-led offense was in need of a blocker.
A day after sitting out the first round of the NFL draft, the Bills addressed both needs in second and third rounds on Friday.
They began by selecting Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby with the 50th pick, and followed up by drafting Louisville guard John Miller 81st overall.
"Corners, you can never have too much," general manager Doug Whaley said, referring to Darby.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Darby played three seasons for the Seminoles, and was the ACC defensive rookie of the year in 2012. He's a speedster, who showed an ability to defend receivers in man-coverage, something Ryan demands out of his cornerbacks.
Ryan was hired in January to replace Doug Marrone, who abruptly stepped down despite a 9-7 finish, which matched the Bills best in a decade.
Ryan's specialty has been devising attacking defenses. On offense, Ryan and new coordinator Greg Roman are installing what they call "a ground and pound" attack that features McCoy, the star running back acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in March.
Miller was a player the Bills were keen on selecting after having him in for a pre-draft visit.
"Once we got to the third, we were actually looking up at Mr. Miller and we were holding our fingers crossed that he would slide to us," Whaley said. "To have a need with a good player at the top of the board, that's a double bonus."
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, Miller was a four-year starter at Louisville, and had experience playing both the right and left guard spots.
He will be given an immediate opportunity to compete for a starting job on a line that's in flux this offseason. Richie Incognito has the inside track to start at one of the guard spots after being signed in January.
The Bills had to wait until the second round to make their first selection. Last year, Buffalo traded its 2015 first- and fourth-round picks to Cleveland to move up five spots in the draft to select receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4.
Barring trades, the Bills will close the draft with four picks on Saturday.
Darby's selection was announced by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who is recovering from two separate bouts of cancer. Upon approaching the draft podium in Chicago, Kelly was greeted by cheers, chants of "Kelly!" and applause from the audience and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Darby earned his second consecutive All-ACC selection last year, when he had a career-best 43 tackles. In 2013, he allowed just nine completions — and no touchdowns — on 27 passes thrown in his direction.
"It got a little boring out there sometimes," Darby said, noting that opposing quarterbacks shied away from throwing in his direction.
He had 23 starts in 43 career games, and helped the Seminoles win the 2014 National Championship and three consecutive ACC titles.
Darby will have a chance to fill a backup role in a defensive backfield that returns starters Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. His addition should allow veteran Corey Graham make the fulltime switch to safety after splitting time at cornerback last season.
The Bills lost starting safety Da'Norris Searcy in free agency in March.
The Bills selected Darby despite the player being connected to two off-field problems at FSU.
Darby and teammate Chris Casher told police they witnessed sex between quarterback Jameis Winston and a woman who accused Winston of raping her in December 2012. Winston, who was selected with the No. 1 pick in the draft by Tampa Bay on Thursday, was never charged and was cleared by the school.
In November, Darby was a passenger in a car allegedly driven by Seminoles cornerback P.J. Williams that left the scene of an off-campus accident. Williams was ticketed but not charged, the New York Times wrote in a report that was denounced by Florida State President John Thrasher.
Whaley said the Bills "felt very comfortable" in drafting Darby after conducting an extensive background check on the player. The Bills also met with Darby at the NFL combine in February.
The Bills have undergone a major transformation this offseason by making numerous high-profile splashes under new owners Terry and Kim Pegula, and in a bid to end the NFL's longest active playoff drought, which stands at 15 seasons.
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