There may not be any NFL action on the field, but that doesn't mean work has come to a stop. The NFL Scouting Combine is sneaking up on us this coming week. NFL Free Agency is starting in less than a month. The draft is in two months. The NFL season is a 12 month a year job and I am ready to go over some draft prospects that I believe would be perfect fits with the Buffalo Bills.
Today, I'll be going over Defensive Ends. This is one of the most important positions that the Bills have to invest in this off-season. I know the draft is impacted by Free Agency, but I'll be doing this in a vacuum.
AJ Epenesa, Defensive End, Iowa (Junior)
Epensa is one of the best pass rushers in the draft. His size is prototypical for the position. He is long, and has the physical gifts to both go through or around the blocker. I'm curious to see his measurables when he checks in at the combine. His arm length will tell us a lot about how well he can engage and disengage with a blocker. The longer the arms, the better he can keep the blocker out of his chest, and that means he has the leverage to get into the backfield.
K'Lavon Chaisson, Defensive End, LSU (Junior)
6'4" 250 lbs
Chaisson has been shooting up draft boards since the end of the College Football season. Kind of like he shoots off the line of scrimmage. He has one of the fastest steps off the line of scrimmage that I've seen in a long time. That burst off the ball gives him the leverage to blast through blockers and keep them off balance. The one drill I want to see Chaisson be on the top of his group is the broad jump. The broad jump shows a players explosion, and if Chaisson wants to continue to climb, he will need an elite number in the broad jump.
Yetur Gross-Matos, Defensive End, Penn St. (Junior)
6'5" 264 lbs
Gross-Matos is a fan favorite to come to Buffalo. His name is one that I have heard since he declared for the draft. He's another long defender, and he uses his length to his advantage. He keeps the blocker off balance, and Gross-Matos is good at keeping his pad level low. You know what they say about the trenches, low man wins. The drill I'm looking to see Gross-Matos do well in the the Short Shuttle. From the NFL.com site, they describe the short shuttle as, "The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodes out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes." This shows an athlete's ability to move laterally, and change direction. Lateral mobility has been one of his short comings, so a great showing in this at the Combine will help him and his draft status.
Curtis Weaver, Defensive End, Boise St. (Junior)
6'3" 265 lbs.
Weaver is a bit on the smaller side, length wise, but he makes up for his lack of length with active hands. He has a good first step, and can keep the blocker off of him with his hands. He's not a guy who can get around the corner quick, which makes him more of a developmental prospect. He's more of a north and south type rusher, which I believe would make him good in run coverage. The drill I want to see Weaver perform well in is the 3 Cone Drill. I once again lean on NFL.com to describe the drill. They describe it as, "Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes." A good showing in this drill will help show that Weaver has worked on his bendyness, which would show he has the ability to turn the corner.
Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida (Redshirt Senior)
6'4" 262 lbs
Greenard isn't a true Defensive End, as he played more OLB while at Florida. His size and strength off the ball will make the transition to being a full time DE easy. His length and hand strength help him shed blockers, and he uses his strength to walk them back. Not the most laterally quick player, and sometimes relies on his strength too much. I'm interested to see what he does in the agility drills to see how much he has improved in such a short time. He would make a nice day 3 addition.