Starter: Ed Oliver, Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver had a very impressive rookie season for the Bills, finishing with five sacks on the season and getting better as the season went on. Primarily playing out of the 3-tech on the interior he showed ability to shoot the B gap.
Oliver showed great power and ability to split gaps while pass rushing sometimes making blockers look silly in the process. Oliver finished with 43 tackles as well, as a result of his high motor where he always plays until the whistle.
Despite a potential suspension upcoming for Oliver due to a DWI, he should impress this season after gaining some valuable experience in winning season last year. Playing 54% of snaps last season, it wouldn’t surprise me if McDermott increases his snaps up to around 60% for the best interior rusher the Bills have.
Oliver shows off his great hands as he burns the Broncos left guard and leads to a near safety:
Backup: Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
Quinnen Williams showed some struggles early on for the Jets which isn’t a surprise in this league for any rookies. Playing about 47% of snaps in his rookie season, look for around a 10 percent increase for his sophomore season and increased production. Williams only produced 2.5 sacks last season but look for that number to constantly improve as he gains more experience.
Williams showed a lot of versatility sometimes lining up at the Nose tackle position (0-Tech) or either the 2-Tech or 4-Tech position he can play all over the defensive line.
Starter: Lawrence Guy, New England Patriots
Lawrence Guy has never been a great pass rusher during his NFL career but has been a stalwart in the run game for the Patriots.
He typically plays the 2-tech for New England where they run a hybrid 3-4 scheme, he does a perfect Job of clogging the interior. Graded out as having a 14 approximate value; a number that Pro Football Reference describes as a number that describes a players performance in a season between amount number of seasons as a starter and number of pro bowls made. His 14 in average value was only 3 value points below Patrick Mahomes. This isn’t saying that these are similar players in talent, but is implying how much value Lawrence Guy has while he is on the field.
Backup: Christian Wilkins, Miami Dolphins
Christian Wilkins didn’t pop off the screen last season and didn’t have great box stats either but Wilkins was in a poor situation early in his rookie season with Miami and that’s always tough especially for a rookie.
Finishing with 2 sacks last season it wasn’t a very productive season, but like Quinnen Williams, Wilkins will improve as he gains more experience in the league. Wilkins will fill in the 2-tech spot for Brian Flores in their hybrid defense.