The Buffalo Bills struggled with the pass rush in 2020, often failing to get pressure on quarterbacks and allowing some big performances through the air in critical losses. General manager Brandon Beane decided to address that need early in the NFL Draft — twice.
After the draft, Beane explained his rationale for using the team’s top two picks on pass rushers, including their first-round pick who is seen as a project in need of development before becoming an impact player.
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Bills Look To Improve Pass Rush
With their first-round pick, the Bills selected Miami Hurricanes defensive end Gregory Rousseau, a 6-foot-6 pass rusher who had a breakout season in 2019 that included 15.5 sacks. After the redshirt freshman season, Rousseau chose to opt out in 2020 and had a shaky combine, which had his draft projection sink from a top 10 overall pick to the No. 30 overall spot where he was taken by Buffalo. He is viewed more as a long-term prospect than an immediate impact player.
Beane and the Bills stuck to the same strategy for the second-round pick on Friday, taking Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. As Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, the sequence raised some eyebrows, especially as Buffalo had a number of needs aside from the pass rush that could have been addressed with one of the picks.
2021 NFL draft: Carlos Basham Jr. called ‘steal’ for #Bills in Round 2: https://t.co/VRLnXyOiD2
— TheBillsWire (@TheBillsWire) May 2, 2021
As Beane explained in a video conference with reporters, the team had not initially planned to take back-to-back defensive ends, but couldn’t pass up the chance to snag Basham when he was still available at No. 61.
“Prior to the draft, we just try to set us up to take the best player available on our board and that’s what we’ve done. Obviously we took Rousseau last night not anticipating taking another pass rusher, but Carlos was the best player on our board,” Beane said. “And again, you can never have enough pass rushers. We thought the value was too good to pass up.”