With their first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills grab A.J. Epenesa from Iowa adding a new pass rusher to a formidable defense.
This pick obviously makes sense for the Bills who are getting a player who will probably be asked to replace Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes who are in their early 30s. Not only do they inject some youth on the defensive line but they get some much-needed speed as well.
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Some believed Epenesa would be selected in the first round but he did not have great results at the combine which might have hurt his draft stock. The other area he needs to work on is his run defending which might limit the number of snaps he’s on the field in the early part of his career.
At the same time, what better place to improve as a defensive player than in Buffalo with Sean McDermott who will make sure that Epenesa carves out a role.
According to John Healy of WGR 550, Espenesa has drawn comparisons to J.J. Watt in terms of his ceiling which is obviously an intriguing one considering that is the type of player the Bills could use coming off the edge. NFL.com also notes that the Illinois native has similar skills to Carlos Dunlap.
"“The size and production should force all evaluators to dial their focus in on what he’s best at rather than any perceived areas of concern. He has average instincts against the run and is a step slow to shed, but he’s strong at the point and he does his job. Epenesa won’t just out-run tackles to the edge, but he’s a skilled rusher whose diversity of attack, skilled hands and unique bull-rushing instincts could help him deliver his college sack production in the pros. He can play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 and could leap from good to great with additional work on technique and explosiveness.”NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein"
The Bills could have easily made another investment on the offensive side of the ball but it’s tough to pass up on a player who knows how to get to the quarterback like Epenesa does.
It seemed like Stefon’s brother Trevon Diggs would potentially slip down to the Bills pick but he went to the Dallas Cowboys taking away the opportunity to see the sibling duo. The only other potential player that could have been an option was Kristian Fulton but the Bills decided that they would rather have a pass rusher.
What do you think about the Bills picking Espensa? Did you have a player they should have taken instead? Let us know in the comments below.