Throughout my life, the Buffalo Bills haven’t always been successful as a team, despite having some successful players on past rosters. Now the team is at a point where the roster is just about as well-rounded as it can be. With that being said, there’s always room for improvement. But wouldn’t it be cool if we could combine some of the talented players from prior Buffalo Bills rosters and put them on the current roster? Below I’m going to break down four 2021 NFL Draft prospects that remind me of either current or former Buffalo Bills players. Linked into each player’s name, I will attach their respective highlight video so you can see some of the things I mention.
Edge – Joseph Ossai (Texas) = Jerry Hughes
First and foremost, the obvious similarity between these two is the size comparison. Joseph Ossai measured in just below 6’4″ and 256 pounds at the Texas Pro Day. Jerry Hughes is currently listed at 6’2″ and 254 pounds, so clearly I’m already working with something. Just to set the table further and establish a baseline for this comparison, not only are they almost the same size, but both played college football in the state of Texas.
The current narrative surrounding Ossai is that he might be too small to be a true edge rusher in the NFL, but he’s too big to play linebacker. This is what the people in the business call a tweener. People may forget, but Hughes was also considered a tweener and struggled to find the footing for his career early on. Hughes began his career with the Colts, straddling the line between being a true edge with his hand in the dirt or an outside linebacker with great pass rush skills.
Ossai finds himself in a similar situation where teams are going to have to be thorough with his evaluation to make sure he fits the defense. In my opinion, Ossai has the ability to be a true edge rusher despite the size concerns. Much like Hughes when he was taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, the first word that should be used to describe Ossai is motor. Ossai gives everything he has on every play with the intent of being right next to the football every time the whistle is blown.
LB – Zaven Collins (Tulsa) = Lorenzo Alexander
It’s tough to compare anyone to Lorenzo Alexander because of his versatility, but Collins actually has a lot of those same qualities. Lorenzo was a true Swiss army knife. He could rush the passer, defend against the run, and drop into coverage a little bit. Collins showed the ability to excel in all of those areas with his play this past season for Tulsa.
At about 6’4″ and almost 260 pounds, Collins is actually a little bit taller and heavier than Lorenzo during his final seasons as a Bill. It’s rare to find an off-ball linebacker at Collins’ size given the modern landscape of football, but he still has plenty of athleticism.
He’s not exactly like Lorenzo but shares some similarities. Lorenzo was more of a natural pass rusher and run stopping strong side linebacker that was sufficient in coverage. On the other hand, Collins is a run stopping off-ball linebacker with added value in coverage and traits that could translate into productivity in pass rushing situations. This versatility and overall ability to impact the game on three levels is very valuable from the linebacker position.
Collins finished 2020 with 54 recorded tackles, 7.5 for loss, two forced fumbles, four sacks, four interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns in just eight games. These numbers evidently show how Collins can impact the game on three levels of the defense, which reminds me of Lorenzo Alexander. The only difference is that Collins’ game is more accustomed to fit into the modern NFL.
Edge – Kwity Paye (Michigan) = Shaq Lawson
It seemed as if the Buffalo Bills would be fine without Shaq Lawson in 2020, and for the most part, they were. However, there were some clear difficulties defending against the run, not to say that was primarily because of Lawson’s departure, but I’m sure it had some impact.
In my opinion, Paye is a very similar prospect to Lawson for a couple of reasons, and the first reason is the comparison of their physical frames. Both are just under 6’3″ and about 265 pounds. The second similarity between the two is play style.
Both edge rushers are capable of bending around the edge to get to opposing quarterbacks, but it isn’t their bread and butter. Paye and Lawson are both very powerful edge rushers that get most of their pass-rushing production from overpowering the player blocking them. Neither have a deep bag full of advanced pass-rushing moves but, rather, above-average athleticism that consistently puts them in advantageous positions to win in various situations.
As mentioned above, Lawson really came into his own by his last season in Buffalo in regards to setting the edge against the run. In Paye’s last 16 collegiate games played, he has 16.5 tackles for loss. Furthermore, his 36 bench press reps at Michigan’s Pro Day should illustrate the natural power he possesses and utilizes when defending against the run.
WR – Josh Imatorbhebhe = Eric Moulds
I wouldn’t blame anyone for being intimidated by just trying to pronounce his name, but Imatorbhebhe’s game is even more intimidating. He measured in just above 6 feet tall and 218 pounds at Illinois Pro Day. Eric Moulds is listed at 6’2″ and 210 pounds for reference. The primary reasoning for this comparison is the similarities between their athletic profiles. Both being wide receivers above 200 pounds enables them to play with an atypical level of physicality relative to the position.
The next striking similarity is how they beat defenders. Moulds was a monster after the catch and had the speed to take it to the house. Imatorbhebhe might not have the same level of breakaway speed that Moulds had, but what they both have is competitive toughness. Moulds was very difficult to tackle because, at his size, it would really require the defender to truly square him up. By the way, Moulds is far too under-appreciated. He just happened to come to the Buffalo Bills during the playoff drought, so his personal success is diminished by the team’s shortcomings.
Imatorbhebhe is actually a bit denser than Moulds was in his day. This lowers his center of gravity, and it shows in his balance at the point of contact. When Imatorbhebhe gets the ball in his hands, it feels like he turns into a running back and seemingly requires at least two people to tackle him more than not. He’s a problem in open space because once he gets a full head of steam, his momentum makes him very difficult to bring down.