This year's top pass rushing prospects... a deep draft for DE/OLB's
Von Miller - as much as I hate player comparisons, Von Miller compares very well to Aaron Maybin. Ultra quick off the snap, good agility, but utterly awful at the physical aspects of the game. Engaging, disengaging, fagettaboutit. I wouldn't even draft Von Miller in the 1st round based on his lack of size AND strength. Speed will get you sacks in college... but alone will not get you sacks in the NFL.
Da'Quan Bowers - after looking into Bowers I came away pretty unimpressed. He was smart to come out after getting 15.5 sacks, because the likelihood of him following that up is very low. He holds his ground against the run well, but isn't that good at getting off blocks to make tackles and pursue. Pass rush is limited, usually gets coverage sacks or takes advantage of a QB that gets happy feet. Many of the plays he made were due to his sheer physical advantage, as with Von Miller, that won't cut it in the NFL. Bowers will likely need a couple of seasons to develop some pass rush moves and learn how and when to disengage blocks. But that goes for most DL. Either way he's not a particularly good fit for Buffalo's 34, he absolutely cannot play in coverage and is not exactly best suited for the 5-tech, either. I think his measurables will be a disappointment to most people when the combine/pro days come around.
Robert Quinn - Absolutely could not find many flaws in his game. He played a little high sometimes against the run, but it didn't seem to matter. He's one of those players that's almost impossible to block. He consistently split double teams, set the edge on perimeter running plays, and almost never failed to at least make the QB know he was coming. He thoroughly beat Blake Costanzo of Boston College, considered a top OL prospect, in spite of TE help throughout the game. His athleticism is unmatched for a player his size. He can make the play on the QB no matter where he is in the pocket, finishing his sacks. He showed a variety of pass rush: speed, swim, change-up, bull. He showed good instincts against the run, not too hasty to crash inside and lose contain. No doubt in my mind he can drop back in coverage, it's more of an issue of him getting used to it. The big concern with him is he's been out of football for a year. That will have to be dealt with in the pre-draft stuff.
Aldon Smith - This is a guy who is dubbed as a classic raw high-ceiling prospect. I don't know how I feel about that. He's not a good combatant for a guy who plays in the trenches. He's rangy, quick, and agile... but not elite at any of them. He lacks strength to "set the edge" against the run. Another classic speed-rusher with no ability to power thru an OT or TE. He got around a lot of OT in college, but he was often side-stepped by QB's and he didn't have the agility finish those sacks.
Akeem Ayers - Here's a player a lot of people are high on. He looks good on paper: nice size at 6'4" @ +250 lbs. When you watch him play, though, he is very easily blocked. He makes plays by avoiding blocks, which is one strategy. But, to be a complete player in the NFL, in particular an OLB in a 34, you need to be more physical. He lacks strength to incorporate power moves into his pass rush, something he was good at, but was by no means a world-beater. IMO he projects more to a true OLB in a 43 defense. He simply isn't good enough at mixing it up with O-linemen to consistently play with his hand on the ground. I also question his demeanor: he doesn't have that tenacious or aggressive demeanor I want in my front 7.
Justin Houston - This is a guy that will probably climb draft-boards throughout the process. His athleticism and size (6'3" @ 260 lbs) are phenomenal. He is Mr. Versatility. He played DE and OLB almost equally as much for the Dawgs. His speed rush off the edge is devastating. He needs to expand that, but he showed potential to do so because he's good at hand-to-hand combat and has phenomenal balance. Of all of these pass rushers, he is the surest one to project to OLB in the 34, simply because he actually played OLB with 3 down linemen in some of Georgia's fronts. And he actually looks smooth in coverage, but doesn't have a lot of experience in man coverage. He holds up well against the run, always scrapping and his instincts funnel him to the ball. His biggest area for improvement would be taking on blocks but keeping track of the ball, as he likes to beat the block and then relocate the ball. In the NFL, the play would already be by him. He's not worthy of Buffalo's top pick, but if Buffalo found themselves somehow after that with Houston on the board, it's a no-brainer.
Bottom Line: The only player to live up to any of their hype SO FAR was Robert Quinn. He and Justin Houston are the only ones that could probably contribute to the Bills right away and warrant a high selection. If the Bills plan on getting a developmental guy, then they should do it in later rounds. Only teams with established starters at most positions should be taking developmental players in the 1st round. I would say Quinn is as good as any prospect out there, although he lacks as much the fan-fare that comes with a name like AJ Green or Patrick Peterson, or even a Nick Fairley.
Which player out of this crop of pass rushers would you want the Bills to snag?
DaQuan Bowers (31 votes)
Von Miller (27 votes)
Akeem Ayers (8 votes)
Justin Houston (35 votes)
Robert Quinn (146 votes)
Aldon Smith (1 vote)
248 total votes