In the past three months, the Buffalo Bills have added multiple Edge Rushers. Efe Obada came in via free agency while Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham joined the squad as well. Those three joined Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes, and A.J. Epenesa to create one very claustrophobic position group.
We may possibly have 11 Defensive Linemen (including DTs) make the final 53. So, I took to Twitter to ask Bills Mafia who they think could see the least amount of snaps next year.
Results are ranked from lowest to highest (in terms of votes)
A.J. Epenesa (11.1%)
During his rookie season in 2020, second-round pick A.J. EP (as I like to call him) struggled a bit to find his footing. He finished the season with a sack, some tackles, and a couple of PBUs. EP was the DE3/DE4 in the rotation last year behind Hughes, Addison, and even Darryl Johnson at some points. However, according to multiple reports, Epenesa has had a ridiculous training camp, and has been tagged by multiple writing personalities as a “breakout candidate”.
Whether it’s McDermott, Addison, Syracuse.com, or ESPN. Everyone is taking note of his spectacular development through the off-season. Bills Mafia took notice of this and very few people see Epenesa taking the least amount of snaps compared to others in this poll. I’m excited for A.J., as, through roster moves, he seems to have been forgotten about or left behind, and I’m ecstatic for the former Hawkeye to prove everyone wrong and set the edge for this revamped defense.
Greg Rousseau (20.1%)
The Greg Rousseau selection came as a surprise to a lot of us when the Bills selected him at the bottom of the first round. Rousseau had just come off a ridiculous 2019 season at Miami as he put up 15.5 sacks, second only to Chase Young of Ohio State. Entering the following season, Greg was ranked highly in mock drafts as a top-10 pick, but after opting out due to Covid-19, he was seemingly forgotten about with Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche emerging in his stead.
Now in the NFL, the 6’6” DE will be looking to make an immediate impact on a contending team that desperately needs edge help. When compared to the rest of the Edge Rushers on this roster, roughly one in every five who voted on this poll don’t see Rousseau playing that much in his freshman season. The main reason being, to me at least, seems to be the lack of versatility as well as the gut feeling coaches get in wanting to play vets over the new guys. Rousseau has a ton to work on and is definitely a project player, but the potential is crazy. Mario Addison made a point of talking about Rousseau’s length during his press conference, and boy, it got me excited.
“Looking at him, at how he’s setting the edge and using all his length, it’s tremendous. He’s coming off the ball, just punching, and the guy barely getting out his stance”-Mario Addison on Greg Rousseau
Carlos “Boogie” Basham (24%)
Following the Rousseau pick in the past draft, Beane & Co. took another D-Lineman in Boogie Basham out of Wake Forest. When comparing Basham and Rousseau, they’re completely different types of Edge Rusher. Rousseau uses his length and overall size to dominate smaller tackles while Basham is as wide as Rousseau is long, and uses leverage to bowl into and dominate Guards while attacking inside. Both these guys should see similar snap counts in different pass-rush schemes. However, more people voted in favor of Basham receiving fewer snaps than Rousseau. Why is that?
Well, if Basham were to play inside, he would have to fight for snaps with guys like Oliver and Zimmer. While, if he were to play on the outside, he’d have to compete against future Bills Wall of Famer Jerry Hughes, the previously mentioned players, Mario Addison, Efe Obada, and Darryl Johnson. Regardless of where Boogie lines up, he will be contending for snaps with guys who have already produced or project high. I think time will do Basham well, as in let’s say three years from now. He projects to be a mainstay on this defense, just not right now.
Mario Addison (44.8%)
The clear bell-cow in this poll, Mario Addison, is coming off of a disappointing season. Buffalo drafted two defensive linemen and signed another to try and bolster their D-Line. Addison was thought to be the final piece on the D-Line, at least for a couple of seasons, but failed to produce at the level needed. Nearly half of the 667 people who voted on this poll see Addison receiving the least amount of snaps when compared to two rookies and a sophomore.
Now, following Addison’s press conference, it’s pretty much a guarantee that he will stay on the roster and continue to play. The front office loves him, the players love him, and it’s pretty easy to assume that he and Jerry Hughes are part of the reason behind Epenesa’s development as well as Basham’s and Rousseau’s. Addison is a great guy and teacher, but Buffalo’s Super Bowl window is now. The smart thing to do would be to explore other starting options opposite Jerry Hughes.
Once again, thanks for the feedback on this week’s poll! To be a part of future polls, be sure to follow @SemiAverageRigs on Twitter, see y’all next week.