Pro Football Focus overlooks Buffalo Bills' DL in recent position rankings list

Do the Bills have an underrated defensive line heading into 2024?
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

One of the headlines from the Buffalo Bills’ 2023 season was the amount of injuries that occurred on the defense. Throughout their season, the Bills lost many valuable players for a long period of time or even the whole season. In Week 4, Tre’Davious White tore his achilles which was his second season-ending injury for the Bills in two years. The following week, both DaQuan Jones and Matt Milano both suffered major injuries. Jones tore his pec which kept him out until near the end of the regular season and Milano suffered a leg injury that ended his season. Not to mention, Von Miller was rehabbing his knee from tearing his ACL the season prior and missed the first four games but was not the same player when he came back.

Down the stretch, it seemed like the Bills had injuries each week on the defense that either kept players on the sidelines for a bit or even ruled out for the game. Despite all of the adversity the Buffalo defense faced, the Bills still managed to have a competent defense that helped them reach the playoffs and steal the AFC East away from the Miami Dolphins. One unit that played a big role in this achievement was the defensive line that was led by Ed Oliver. 

Even though Miller was not himself at all throughout the season and DaQuan Jones missed a majority of the season, the Bills’ defensive line still managed to hold their ground and make teams win through the air. In five of the first six weeks, the Bills’ run defense was atrocious, without question. Then from Week 7 and on, they only allowed 100+ rushing yards in four games. In addition, they helped create a pass rush to make life easier on the secondary that was battling through injuries as well.

Heading into the 2024 season, the Bills’ defensive line will look a little bit different but not a lot has changed. The biggest change was Leonard Floyd leaving to join the San Francisco 49ers (who the Bills will host on Sunday night in December). Other than that, the Bills will have the same core that they have had, while also adding a new rookie in DeWayne Carter whom they drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft.

While there will be continuity within this unit, Sam Monson from Pro Football Focus seems to think the defensive line for Buffalo is in the middle of the pack of the league heading into next season. Out of 32 spots, Monson ranked the Bills' defensive line as the 16th best putting them behind the New York Jets (No. 1) and the New England Patriots (No. 15).

"Buffalo’s defensive line is a group stronger on name recognition than on consistently impactful play. Von Miller looked like a shadow of himself in 2024 and may simply have stayed too long at the fair.

Ed Oliver had the best season of his NFL career, but it earned him only a 67.8 PFF overall grade because of his 55.4 run-defense grade.

Greg Rousseau has emerged as a very good player, and re-signing DaQuan Jones was a big move, given the play he displayed before getting hurt last season."

Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus

Seeing how the Bills’ defense can handle adversity and how both Ed Oliver and A.J. Epenesa are coming off career years, Buffalo’s defensive line (as long as they stay healthy) will be a key contributor in their success this season. If Sean McDermott and Bobby Babich are able to bring this unit up to the next level, not only will it take pressure off of the secondary but it will also allow Matt Milano and Terrel Bernard to grow even more in their play.