The Bills’ Needs:
Coach McDermott and GM Branon Beane have done a great job building their defense over the years. Although. this success does not mean the front office is going to stop adding to this fiery group. After this season, it’s clear the Bills have a blatant need for a premier edge rusher. Now, with the recent retirement of Lorenzo Alexander, this opens up a new outside linebacker spot on the offseason checklist as well.
This draft could be a key opportunity to snipe a young, promising player who can help at both of these positions. If the Bills do not end up signing an edge threat in free agency, we could see Beane continue his streak of hitting on defensive players early in the draft. Twenty-year-old NFL prospect K’Lavon Chaisson is a young and talented edge rusher who has a lot of versatility to offer the Buffalo Bills.
In college, Chaisson played as an outside linebacker in LSU’s 3-4 hybrid defense. He is a young prospect who suffered a knee injury his sophomore year and came back healthy after redshirting. If drafted, he would be coming from an odd front defense to the Bills 4-3. This could result in him becoming a defensive end, but he has experience as an off-ball outside linebacker as well.
The Bills run a lot of nickel so he could be bumped down during these sets and then brought back up for the base defense. If converted down he would initially have to gain some weight and bulk up his already 6’3” 250-pound frame. Having pass rush experience with his hand in the dirt provides some evidence that he could produce in this system.
Against the Pass:
Chaisson’s first step explosiveness is his most desirable trait as a prospect. Even after coming back from a knee injury, which can be detrimental to explosiveness, he still has some of the quickest get-off speed in the country. This lightning speed off the edge is not something you can teach and is a trait that is highly sought after in the NFL.
Combining this quickness with his pass rush repertoire is what makes him such a good young prospect. Typically, a sophomore who missed a year due to injury does not have the time to develop an assortment of techniques. Chaisson has instead proven he is athletic and coachable enough to utilize speed and power moves.
His instincts and range are at the top of his class. He flies to the football and can make plays from the backside as an edge defender. Though his pass-rush ability is great, he also offers the ability to man up running backs and drop into zone coverage.
This type of versatility opens up the playbook and allows unique blitz packages to be schemed. An edge rusher with his size typically has a hard time being able to cover like a traditional 4-3 linebacker, though this is what makes him such an all-round intriguing prospect.
Defending the Run:
Chaisson’s quick twitch and play speed transfer well to stopping the run. An underrated part of his game is his ability to separate and gain leverage from blockers using his hands.
While tackling, he is athletic enough to wrap up skill position players in the open field and also make plays in the backfield. He has shown the discipline to contain the backside of plays which is critical in today’s NFL. With the growing rate of misdirection and trick plays, it’s key to have ends that can maintain their responsibility. Chaisson has proven his talents against the run and can help set the edge for the Bills front seven.
For the Bills’ to solidify their spot as the best defense in the NFL, they need to go out and grab their edge defender. Whether they want to pay a big-time free agent or bet on a young talent is yet to be seen. With the recent retirement of Lorenzo Alexander, the outside linebacker position needs help and this prospect could provide a hybrid answer to that hole.
K’Lavon Chaisson could be a draft option for the Buffalo Bills and this organization doesn’t have a problem drafting young prospects to lead their defense. Tremaine Edmunds was even younger when he was drafted and has emerged as a captain in his second year with the team. Depending on how the draft falls, we could see Beane go out and grab this versatile and speedy pass rusher to compliment the already established Bills defense.