Buffalo Bills 2021 Player Profile: Defensive tackle Justin Zimmer

Oct 19, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs against Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (61) in the second quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs against Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (61) in the second quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /
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The defensive tackle is a position for the Buffalo Bills that has some uncertainty as it remains to be seen if Star Lotulelei returns to his 2019 form or if Ed Oliver finally breaks out, or whether Harrison Phillips now two seasons removed from his ACL injury can bounce back.

However, with all these questions, there is an opportunity for a player like Justin Zimmer to emerge and potentially earn a roster spot this coming season. Let’s take a closer look at Justin Zimmer and how he might fit with the Bills in 2021.

Profile

Position: Defensive Tackle

Age: 28

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 300 pounds

Years of Experience: 3

2020 Stats

Last year, Zimmer started the year on the Bills’ practice squad but was called up in Week 1 against the New York Jets. He would return to the practice squad before being called up again in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

That was enough for Zimmer to earn a full-time spot on the 53-man roster and he would finish the year playing in 12 games and finishing with 13 total tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. That one force fumble was one of the biggest plays of the season for the Bills as it secured the win over the New England Patriots in Week 8.

On that play, the Patriots were driving and Cam Newton had escaped the pocket and was scrambling for a first down near the red zone. Zimmer didn’t give up on the play and coming from behind punched the ball out and the Bills recovered and earned the victory.

Expectations for 2021 with the Buffalo Bills

There is no question that Justin Zimmer is good enough to be a key part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line. Whether or not Zimmer makes the 53-man roster right from the start of the season will come down to how the coaching staff wants to address the defensive line as a whole.

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If the Bills elect to keep six defensive ends, it will likely signal they keep four defensive tackles with Lotulelei, Oliver, Phillips, and Vernon Butler likely the favorites. However, if the Bills keep five defensive tackles, then Zimmer would be the logical choice and could see a role similar to what he had last year with around 26% of the defensive snaps.