Buffalo Bills: Predicting the DL depth chart entering training camp

Jerry Hughes, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Jerry Hughes, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Bills Ed Oliver (91) and Jerry Hughes (55) run down Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.Jg 110120 Bills 36
Bills Ed Oliver (91) and Jerry Hughes (55) run down Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.Jg 110120 Bills 36 /

Starting LE: Jerry Hughes

Jerry Hughes is entering his ninth season with the Buffalo Bills, and he has been one of the most consistent members on the entire roster during his tenure thus far. Since 2014, Hughes has started 110 of the 112 games that the Bills have played. He has recorded 51 sacks, 110 quarterback hits and forced 14 fumbles in that time frame. Hughes is a respected locker room leader and a fan favorite. He will continue to start at the defensive end for the Bills until the younger players are ready to take over.

Starting DT: Ed Oliver

Ed Oliver has been solid for the Bills in his first two seasons with the team. Oliver has recorded eight sacks, 76 combined tackles, and forced two fumbles. Oliver’s 2020 numbers were not as impressive as his 2019 numbers were, but he is just 23 years old.

Ed Oliver is the best defensive tackle on Buffalo’s roster, and he will continue to be a presence on the Bills defensive line for at least the next few years.

Starting DT: Vernon Butler

Half of the defensive line is pretty much set in stone for 2021, the other half is anything but that. Vernon Butler started nine games at defensive tackle alongside Ed Oliver in 2020. He played well, not missing a single tackle the entire season.

His reliability up the middle is something that could prove to be valuable to the Bills in 2021. Butler will have fierce competition to keep his starting job in 2021 however. Star Lotulelei is returning to the team after sitting out the 2020 season, and he will be looking to reclaim his starting spot. Justin Zimmer and Harrison Phillips will also be looking to earn that spot as well.

Butler will start training camp as the incumbent starter, but whether he keeps that position or not is anybody’s guess.

Starting RE: Mario Addison

Perhaps the most interesting storyline going into training camp for the Buffalo Bills is who will start across the defensive line from Jerry Hughes in 2021. Mario Addison held the role in 2020 and played at a decent level. Addison led the Bills in sacks in 2020, recording five.

Although he led the Bills in sacks in 2020, his sack production was nearly cut in half from the 9.75 sacks he averaged from 2016-2019. Addison will turn 34 years before the 2021 season starts, and considering the three promising young players behind him on the depth chart, he may be out of Buffalo before the regular season begins.

Cutting Addison would leave the Bills with roughly $8M in dead cap, so it is not a guarantee that he is served his walking papers. It will be a dogfight between five players for the starting right end spot in 2021.