Predicting the Buffalo Bills starting defense after the 2024 NFL Draft

The Buffalo Bills will have several new faces on defense in 2024, with the biggest change coming in the defensive backfield. Who will replace Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer?
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

I put out my thoughts on the Bills offense earlier this week and now we'll look at the defense. Buffalo's sack production a season ago was one of the best in team history. They produced 54 sacks, second only to the 2013 squad that posted 57. They accomplished this with Von Miller contributing exactly zero sacks to that total. the team is returning four of their top five sack producers from last season too, only Leonard Floyd is gone. Hopefully, Miller can return to form and fill that void. Can this squad be as productive with getting to the quarterback in 2024?

The team should be set at linebacker; however, there is some concern that Matt Milano might not be ready to go to start the season. In the secondary, we could have two new faces manning the safety positions; however, we don't know if Hyde will retire yet. He has said that if he returns to play another season, he wants it to be with the Bills. He is still a free agent, so the matter of a contract would have to be worked out. Regardless, let's get into my projected starting defense.

Buffalo Bills 2024 starting defense

Edge defender:

Von Miller - I believe we'll get a much better version of Von Miller than we got in 2023; however, at age 35, how much can we truly expect? Either way, Miller will be more than a year removed from his knee injury and should be penciled in as a starter for the Bills in 2024.

Gregory Rousseau - Rousseau was one of the better run-defenders in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. He earned a run-defense grade of 79.6, ranked number 12 among edge defenders. Can he bring up his sack numbers? If he can reach double-digit sacks to go with his run defense, he could be seen as one of the best edge players in the league.

Defensive Tackle:

Ed Oliver - Ed Oliver enjoyed his best season last year, and we hope to see more of the same in 2024. He also played the most snaps in a given season in his career, and some think that affected his performance in the playoffs. The Bills drafted DeWayne Carter, who should be a solid part of the rotation, and save these guys for a late-season push.

DaQuan Jones - Thank goodness Jones resigned with the Bills for another season. The pairing of Oliver and Jones started last season with a bang. These two together were playing as well as any tandem in the league. Hopefully, Jones can stay healthy for 17 games and through the playoffs.


Matt Milano - If Milano isn't ready to go, we might see Dorian Williams take the lead role until Milano is ready. Regardless, Milano is the starter, that isn't a shock to anyone. I can't wait to see him back on the field in 2024.

Terrel Bernard - I cannot wait to see Milano and Bernard on the field together. We got a glimpse of how good these two can be as a duo but were robbed of a full season. After a full season in a starting role, Bernard should be even better in 2024.

Corner Backs:

Rasul Douglas - Douglas came in around mid-season, and one could say he saved the Bills season. After the defense suffered multiple injuries, including top corner Tre White, Beane executed a trade to acquire Douglas and almost instantly started making plays in the Bills secondary. He should continue his lead role as the team's top corner.

Christian Benford - Benford stepped in as a rookie two seasons ago and as a late-round draft pick, he out-dueled first-round selection Kaiir Elam for the starting role, and hasn't relinquished the job. He continues to improve and according to Pro Football Focus was the 11th-best CB in the league with a grade of 83.

Taron Johnson - Johnson might be the best slot corner in the NFL. No changes here with Johnson manning the position.


Taylor Rapp - Rapp has experience in the Bills' defense, which I think will help him secure a starting role. But regardless of what some might assume, I don't think either safety position has a starter locked in right now. While Pro Football Focus grades weren't great for either Rapp or free agent Mike Edwards, Rapp fared considerably better.

Cole Bishop - This one might surprise some, but I think this kid has what it takes to push Mike Edwards to the bench. As I just mentioned, Edwards' PFF grades were not good, earning an overall grade of 56.9, including a run defense grade of 53.6 and a coverage grade of 58.6. Rapp's grades were much better, but he also wasn't asked to be a true safety in many cases.

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