Buffalo Bills NFL Draft History: Re-Drafting the first round picks since 2010
By Khari Demos
Buffalo Bills 2021 First Round Pick: Gregory Rousseau
The Miami Hurricane product came in as a very raw player, but one with tremendous physical traits. At 6-foot-6 and 266-pounds, Rousseau is a lengthy, athletic player who is only beginning to come into his own as an edge rusher.
There were some good moments, to say the least. Rousseau had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, and two QB hits in just his second NFL game, which was a homecoming, as he played against the Miami Dolphins on his college field at Hard Rock Stadium.
He was all over the field in the Bills’ Sunday Night Football win over the Kansas City Chiefs and he also made one of the most athletic plays a defensive lineman made all season when he picked off Patrick Mahomes.
Overall for 2021, PFF rated Rousseau with a 70.2 grade. The scariest part about that first-year success is he’s still so early in his development. Having only played in 14 college games, playing a lot of snaps at wide receiver and safety in high school, as well as missing the entire 2020 season due to COVID concerns, the Coconut Creek, Florida native has the upside to grow at only 22 years of age.
I liked Rousseau because he knows to get his hands up and knock down passes. He finished the regular season with a pass defended in three of the final four games. If he can continue to use his rangy frame when rushing like he did last season, he could bat more passes down if he’s unable to sack the QB.
And for his sack total, let’s not get too stressed out over that. Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter, and DeMarcus Ware were all players who became double-digit sack players in year two after modest sack numbers as rookies. While his four sacks don’t seem like a ton, Rousseau affected QBs in other ways.
But there’s no question he needs to continue to develop. If he does? The Bills could have their next great defensive end on their hands.
Was this the right pick?
Only time will tell here, but if 2021 was any proof, it should be that Rousseau can play in this league. But not only can he play, but he’s also got the tools to make splash plays that earn players Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods.
Again, being as raw as he is, he brings so much to the table even at 22. The sky is the limit for Rousseau. And now that Von Miller is in the building, he’ll be receiving tutelage from a sack master in his final years as a pro, just like Demarcus Ware did for Miller during their time in Denver.
Who could the Buffalo Bills have taken?
Rousseau will forever be linked to Odafe Oweh and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, as all three edge players were selected consecutively with picks No. 30, 31, and 32. Both players selected after Rousseau had productive rookie campaigns as well, but I’m not sure if the Bills are kicking themselves about picking Rousseau instead.
Now one name that I think should have been considered here was Javonte Williams. The North Carolina product had a phenomenal rookie season, as his 903 rushing yards, 1,219 yards from scrimmage, and seven total touchdowns all ranked third among rookies in their respective categories.
As well as Devin Singletary played down the stretch, Williams would have added a notable punch if he was with him in the lineup. Plus, there’s evidence that Williams can play nice with other backs.
Not only was Williams a part of one of the best two-headed monsters in the country with Michael Carter at UNC, but he also had the rookie year he did while Melvin Gordon went for 1,131 yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs.