Jun
08
2021

Which Bills Rookie Defensive End Will Have a Bigger Impact This Season?

Ever since Sean McDermott’s arrival, the Buffalo Bills have placed an emphasis on having a good defensive line with depth. The most important part of the defensive line for McDermott has been the use of a solid rotation. There are plenty of benefits to rotating defensive linemen, most notably being the endurance factor. It’s one thing to believe in the idea of rotating defensive linemen, but it requires reliable depth.

Whether Bills’ first-round draft choice Gregory Rousseau or second-round pick Carlos “Boogie” Basham can play is almost beside the point. Both play defensive end, which means they’ll be battling each other for a roster spot or playing time. They already fit the team’s winning culture, which keeps growing stronger because of the attitudes.

As eager as fans are for intel on the new defensive line pieces the Bills added in the draft, it’s hard to glean too much from OTA team drills because of the environment. With that in mind, there were a few occasions where defensive linemen showed up in their matchups with offensive linemen.

Gregory Rousseau “Groot”:

He’s tall, strong, and a decent all-around athlete. The other thing that stands out about Rousseau on film is his hands. In combination with his size, most of his sacks came from good hand placement. He also showed that he rarely gave up on the play, so even if he didn’t get good initial pressure, he was able to still get in the backfield.

His other sacks came when Miami kicked him inside, and he was able to take advantage of mismatches against interior linemen.

It will be important for the Bills to understand the need for patience with his development. Rousseau suffered a season-ending fractured ankle in 2018 after just two games and opted out of 2020, leaving 2019 as the only year of film to evaluate, and his rawness was evident. With patience and development, Rousseau has the upside to become an impact defender that can play all across the defensive line on multiple fronts.

Carlos “Boogie” Basham:

Basham was a steady pass-rushing presence for Wake Forest in 2019, coming through with some clutch rushes. While Basham has a big and strong frame, he is faster than one would think from the eyeball test. He fires off the ball with a good get-off and the first-step quickness to get upfield. Basham shows active hands to fight off blockers and has a repertoire of moves, including a rip and a spin to go along with bull rushes and cuts to the inside. Basham possesses nice vision to keep his eyes on the quarterback while using his hands and feet at the same time to work off blocks. When Basham gets free, he shows a burst to close with impressive pursuit skills for a big defensive end.

“When you look at Carlos, he is a dynamic player up front,” Brooks said ‘Path to the Draft’ on NFL Network. “First step quickness, he’s a guy who is red because he combines power with twitch, and you just don’t see that. Plus he has a non-stop motor. Typically those try-hards, play-hard guys find a way to have production, particularly when you have some athleticism and skill like Basham does.”

For Basham to reach his ceiling at the next level, developing his secondary pass rush moves, trimming weight, adding functional strength, and improving his block recognition skills on run plays will be important.

As the poll indicated, some Bills fans believe Rousseau will have the bigger impact this season. I personally believe that Basham may have a bigger impact this year as he is more of a complete player right now than Rousseau. But, if they both live up to their potential, Rousseau has a much higher ceiling that Bashman. Either way as Bills fans it will be exciting to see them grow and hopefully terrorize the AFC.

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