Is A.J. Epenesa or Boogie Basham under more pressure entering preseason?

Both defensive ends could be battling for a roster spot in 2023

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots / Billie Weiss/GettyImages

Two Buffalo Bills that have been briefly mentioned as players who could be in a competition with not just each other for playing time, but even for a roster spot are two younger edge rushers; A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham

Epenesa was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, and surprisingly dropped all the way down to pick #54 for the Bills. Drafted out of Iowa, Epenesa was brought in to provide a pass rush that the Bills had inconsistency at for some time.

Up until last season, Epenesa has yet to play a full season with the Bills and has yet to reach ten career sacks (currently sitting at nine). Last season, Epenesa raised his numbers in sacks (6.5), total tackles (16), quarterback hits (10), and even in games played (15). Not exactly what you would call a successful season, but he did slowly improve. 

Basham was drafted in the second round in the 2021 NFL draft, behind edge rusher Gregory Rousseau who was drafted by the Bills in the first round. Much like Epenesa, Basham was drafted to be part of a rotation that the Bills coaching staff likes to put together on the defensive line.

In two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Basham has played in 23 regular season games out of a possible 36 games. His highest sack number is two, and has only provided a total of eight quarterback hits in his first years of his career. 

The Bills had drafted Gregory Rousseau, ahead of Basham and then brought in star edge rusher Von Miller in free agency in 2022. In addition, the Bills also signed Leonard Floyd in June of this year to help with the missing presence of Miller to potentially start the season. 

Heading into the 2023 season, which Buffalo Bills' defensive end faces more pressure? 

Even though Basham statistically has not performed up to his second-round status, neither has Epenesa. Even though Epenesa had a career year in 2022, sometimes the saying “too little, too late” comes into play. Going into a contract year, Epenesa will need to keep impressing at training camp and even in the preseason.

Basham may have atleast this year to prove that he could be a good rotational piece to the Bills this season and even next season. The clock is ticking on Epenesa to step up and there may be limited time. 

Maybe Epenesa is on the cut list before week one, or even potentially traded. With the rest of training camp set to take place and the approach of week one coming up in over a month, both players face a good amount of pressure, but Epenesa could face a little bit more.