Sign Julius Peppers or Wilfork? Draft Suh? 2010 Buffalo Bills Offseason Focus Pt. 3: Defensive Line
Since the last edition of the 2010 Bills Offseason Focus, there have been multiple changes in the Buffalo Bills' front office. New defensive coordinator George Edwards has stated that the 2010 Bills will utilize a "Hybrid 3-4," which changes a lot of the positions the team will attack this offseason.
Defensive ends Julius Peppers and Johnny Jolly become free agents this season, and defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Casey Hampton also will join them in the Free Agency pool, which is growing with talent.
With regards to the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft, huge prospects such as Suh, Gerald McCoy, Derrick Morgan, and Jason Pierre-Paul could be available at the No.9 Overall pick, with the constant rise and fall of the top draft prospects.
After the past Buffalo Bills season, another area showed that it needed improvement. This area is the linebacker position. Yes, Paul Pozlusny missed a couple games. Kawika Mitchell was put on the injured reserve. So did Keith Ellison, who was having another productive season, almost matching his numbers from last season in about half the games.
But it seems that the Buffalo Bills will be switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme next year, and many players are calling for it, and for our first round pick of last year, Aaron Maybin to be on the field, this change may be inevitable.
If the Bills do switch to a 3-4, another ILB besides Paul Posluzny is needed. With the No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft, there is an absolute stud available. His name is Rolando McClain. In free agency, there are also multiple inside linebackers that can help out the Bills and solidify a defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese.
Who We Have at Defensive Tackle, and Their Role in a 3-4 Defense
The change to a 3-4 defense will greatly change the roles of the current defensive line the Bills have as of now.
31-year-old defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, who was coached by new defensive coordinator George Edwards during his time at Georgia, has stated that he would do whatever it takes to play the 3-4 nose tackle position.
That being said, Stroud is 6'6" and weighs 306 lbs. The ideal nose tackle weighs around 330 lbs.
This past season, Stroud made 56 tackles, recorded two sacks, and batted down eight passes. Kyle Williams played great, recording 66 tackles, and made four sacks. But at 6'6" and 306 lbs, he may not be fit for the nose tackle position, but if he can lose about 10-15 lbs over the offseason, he may be a perfect fit to play the 3-4 defensive end.
Defensive end Aaron Schobel will most likely be moved to outside linebacker in the implemented 3-4 defensive, as will Aaron Maybin, leaving the defensive end position scarce.
Ryan Denney played decent, given the limited playing time he received in the rotation between the trio of Stroud, Kelsay, and Denney. This brings us to the debate of whether a 3-4 defensive line consisting of Kyle Williams, Marcus Stroud, and Ryan Denney could efficiently attack the run, considering the small size of the group.
NFL Draft Prospects: Round One
Many mock drafts have Suh (sorry, not going to butcher the name) and Gerald McCoy as the consensus No.1 and No.2 overall picks in the draft.
However, with Marc Bulger no longer an option for the Rams at QB, many have speculated that the Rams may take Sam Bradford with the No.1 pick, dropping Suh and McCoy to the Lions. In this situation, the Lions would most likely take McCoy, as he is better against the pass.
At No.3, the Bucs are most likely to take S Eric Berry, who is considered the next Ed Reed. The Redskins at No.4 have Albert Haynesworth, leaving them with no need for a DT, and would most likely draft an OT or QB.
After No.4 is where things get interesting, but there is a slim possibility Suh could drop to the Bills. If not, solid defensive ends with the size to play in the 3-4 such as Derrick Morgan from Georgia Tech (Coached by Chan Gailey), Jason Pierre-Paul from USF, Karlos Dunlap from UF, and Everson Griffin out of USC.
With the No.9 overall pick in this year's draft, there is a dominating linebacker who is regarded as the Peyton Manning of the defensive side of the ball in Rolando McClain from Alabama. He is unbelievable against the run, something that was of concern for the Bills linebackers this season, and has great speed and rarely misses a tackle.
If Buffalo decided to trade down within the first round and gain maybe a first and a third for their No. 9 pick, Sergio Kindle could be available late in the first round. Sergio Kindle is a versatile outside linebacker, who has the strength to compete with tackles at the defensive end position as well. Watch a Texas game, and you will see him on the ball holder every down. He can rush the quarterback and he has the speed to keep up with tight ends and running backs.
NFL Draft Prospects: Round Two
Long story short, if Terrence "Mount" Cody falls to No. 41, Buffalo is set at nose tackle and could draft a stud DE or OT in the First Round.
Cody is an absolute monster at 6'3" and 375 lbs, played a little FB and OT at Alabama, and would have no problem instantly playing Nose in the NFL.
2010 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Tackles
Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots and Casey Hampton headline the list of this years free agent defensive tackles.
If the Pats don't franchise Wilfork, there will be at least five teams bidding on him. He is a dominating force at the position and clogs holes like no other. He’s already gone on the record saying he won’t be pleased if the Patriots use the franchise tag on him, but that doesn’t mean the Patriots won’t use it as a last resort if the two sides can’t agree to a deal. He could be upset with the New England organization, and for the right price he may want to stick it to them twice a year.
A name you may not have heard of is Louis Leonard. Leonard, who plays for the Panthers, is only 26-years-old and weighs 330 lbs, the perfect size for a NT. He did break his ankle in Week Two, and if not resigned by Carolina, could be another option to explore, as Leonard already has the size and skill set to play the position, and has nowhere to go but up, considering his ripe age of 26.
2010 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends
Julius Peppers is obviously the most coveted DE in the NFL and wants to play in a 3-4. However, after being part of a losing franchise for his entire career, he may want to get in the same situation, in an even colder location.
Johnny Jolly, on the other hand, was a cornerstone of the Packers defense this past season, and pending his legal issues off the field with the fact that the Packers have to retain Ryan Pickett, may be an ideal fit for Buffalo. Jolly batted 10 passes, and can also play Nose in limited downs. With legal issues pending, a team may be able to grab him for a lower price than expected.
What Do You Think?
It is very obvious that the Bills are going to look very different in 2010, but what are your opinions regarding the defensive line and who the Bills should acquire this offseason?
Time seems to be running out for the Bills, and it is time to make a statement!