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Who Are The Top Five Safeties In Buffalo Bills History?

This is the ninth installment of the Bills Beat, “Top Five” series. Now we dive into the Buffalo Bills’ history of safeties. The Bills arguably have the best safety tandem in the league currently with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

We have gotten spoiled having these two safeties in the backend of the Bills’ defense, these last four years. The chemistry and bond they’ve built with each other, and this defense is one like no other. You never see them blaming their teammates or getting down after a bad play. They pop right back up and get the next play. Seeing how good these two have been for us raises the question of “Who are the top five best safeties to ever play for our Buffalo Bills?” In this article, we will take a look.

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Buffalo Bills – USA Today

5 – Mark Kelsoe

Mark Kelso was selected with the 261st pick in the 1985 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was a member of all four Super Bowl teams and is currently second on the all-time list for most interceptions in Bills history with 30.

His best seasons were between 1987-1989 when he helped the Bills get back into the playoffs. In 1988 he snagged seven interceptions and another two in the playoffs. Kelso was a ball hawk during this time with the Bills. He made great reads of the quarterback and eyes for the ball as well.

A lot of us know Kelso because of his padded helmet and “pro-cap” which he started wearing after suffering 4 concussions. While it may not have looked the sharpest, it extended his career, and he went on to have a very successful NFL career. As mentioned, he was able to play in all four Super Bowls and was a key contributing factor to that defense in the 1990s.

After deciding to switch to the padded helmet he was able to play four more years and suffered just one more concussion along the way (which is still bad, but his padded helmet most likely prevented him from suffering more). Its rather ugly appearance kept it from catching on around the league but if you ask me, this would be great to make a comeback now with all the concussions we still see happening in the NFL.

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Jairus Byrd – USA Today

4 – Jairus Byrd

Most of us remember Jarius Byrd I’m sure. His tenure in Buffalo was a very good one. While he was never a part of a good team in Buffalo, Bryd was a standout player and had some great years for the Bills in his 5 years with the team.

Byrd joined the team as a rookie in 2009 where he burst onto the scene as he tied for the league lead, with nine interceptions. He also tied an NFL record, by picking off two or more passes in three consecutive weeks and was arguably one of the best safeties in the game at the time.

Even though the 29-year-old had his season cut short by injury, he was voted to the Pro Bowl and named second-team All-Pro. He would go on to earn both awards two more times during his tenure with the Bills, while also earning a First-team All-Pro selection in 2012.

We all remember Byrd for being a hard-hitting ball-hawking safety during his time with the Bills. And while he wasn’t on any notable Bills team, he is absolutely worthy of a spot in the Bill’s top 5 safeties. In 2014 the Bills released him and he went on to sign a 6-year deal with the Saints, unfortunately to only have his career cut short due to injuries. But his time with the Bills wi not be forgotten.

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Micah Hyde – USA Today

3 – Micah Hyde

Not often do we have current players on our top 5 list. However here Micah Hyde is definitely deserving of a spot and we may see Jordan Poyer on this list as well. We are currently witnessing one of the greatest safety tandems to play for the Bills in recent history. You could even make a case they should be ranked higher due to the changing of the game over the years.

The safety has become more prominent and more important every year as the aerial attack continues to dominate the league, so safeties are asked to do more. Not only step up and help the run game but also drop back, read the QB and defend the pass.

Hyde came to the Bills in 2017 from the GB Packers. In his first season with the Bills, he had 5 INT and led what was a very good defense at the time. He was named a 2nd-team all pro in 2017 as well as being nominated for the pro-bowl as well. He is a very smart player and tackles better than most linebackers do.

This past year he and Jordan Poyer were voted the #1 safety tandem by Pro Football Focus (PFF). In 2021 he was awarded 2nd-team all pro once again. He tagged along 5 INT and an INT return for a TD with him as well. Micah Hyde is an all-around great player. He’s smart, great at the fundamentals, is trust-worthy to put back on punt returns and a true leader on that defense.

Micah Hyde is very deserving to be on this list and for good reason as well.

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Jordan Poyer – USA Today

2 – Jordan Poyer

Jordan Poyer comes in at #2 on our list. And similar reasoning here with Micah Hyde. These 2 are both the best at their positions in the NFL right now, so it would only make sense for them to be on the top 5 all-time list of Bills safeties. When they leave Buffalo we’ll look back and see how lucky we were to have such a dynamic duo. They can be interchangeable as well. The reason we have Poyer coming in at #2 is that his play the last couple of years has been phenomenal. He’s a leader on the team and seems to get better every year.

Poyer also joined the Bills in 2017 and in his first year with the Bills he also had 5 INT and 1 of those returned for a TD. Poyer revived his career in Buffalo, and we are all so grateful he chose to come here. He was very underrated the past couple of years being snubbed from a couple of pro-bowls and other honors (That shows you how ridiculous the pro-bowl voting is). However this year he was finally recognized for his outstanding play as he was awarded “1st Team All Pro” for the FS position.

Jordan Poyer came into the league as a 7th-round pick in 2013 and suffered several injuries. Not many coaches or GMs figured he would make it or be any good after those. However, the Bills wanted to take a chance on him and boy did it pay off. He worked hard and has established himself as one of the best safeties in the league and is finally earning the respect he deserves. Jordan Poyer is currently ranked as the 4th best “all-around safety” in the league according to PFF and as mentioned earlier, he and Hyde are the consensus #1 safety duo in the entire NFL.

When Poyer’s time with the Bills is done, hopefully, it’s not for a while, he will go down as one of the best safeties the Bills have ever had.

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Buffalo Bills – USA Today

1 – George Saimes

George Saimes deservedly takes his place as the best safety in Bills history. For anyone unfamiliar with his career, here is a good look at his resume for you to see what he had to offer. To be honest with you all, I wasn’t quite sure who George Saimes was either until I did some research and found all his stats and the amazing achievements he had as a member of the Buffalo Bills. I encourage you all to do the same. Especially the younger fans.

Selected in the sixth round of the 1963 AFL draft, no one could have envisioned the career Saimes would have, as he went on to become one of the best safeties in league history. He played 7 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and went on to be a 5-time AFL all-star.

While we know that the talent level and the game in the 1960s are much different than how the game is played today, George still takes the cake as not only the best safety the Bills have ever had, but also one of the best safeties in the league history. During his era of football, he was seen as one of the best tacklers in the history of the league.

He was named a member of the Bills’ 50th season anniversary all-time team. Saimes’ finest season was arguably in 1964 when he grabbed a career-high six interceptions. Which is quite a lot considering they only played 14 games back then and they threw the ball considerably less than they ran it. He also helped the Bills win the first of two AFL Championships during his time in Western New York.

Saimes passed away in 2013. But the Bills made sure that his memory and his accomplishments were not to be forgotten as they added him to their wall of fame in the year 2000.

We would love to hear your take on our list. What would you change? Who would you include? Who would you get rid of? What order would you remake it in? Let us know! Follow me on Twitter @am_star5 and I would love to have further Bills discussions! Thank you all for reading!

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