The pass rushers are in the books, so I moved on to the interior of Buffalo's defense. For the record, I do these because usually just reading thru scouting reports from different draftniks is inconsistent and hype-based at best. So I try to just gather as much game footage torrents as I can to evaluate the players myself.
Disclaimer: if there's a player not included here it's because when I started evaluating them I decided they would not fit what Buffalo is trying to do defensively. It's debatable, but whatevs.
There's a lot to like about Cameron Jordan. He doesn't take any plays off. Very strong player that's tough to block. Has powerful hand use to avoid/shed blocks. Is not weak by any stretch but can add upper body strength. Moves very well for a guy his size. He got plenty of experience playing with 3 down linemen. He actually is a good pass rusher, showed the bull, punch, rip, spin, etc. and always makes the QB move. The bottom line with Jordan is he's as solid of a prospect as they come. He gives maximal effort on the field, plays the run and pass equally well and unfortunately isn't likely to be on the board when Buffalo picks as he'll go after 3 and before 34.
Beast mode should be applied to JJ Watt instead of Marshawn Lynch. The man is an animal. He's a tough and nasty DE that's pretty tough to handle. A superb run defender, although he is slow as molasses and not so sharp at changing direction, so if he's caught out of position he won't make the play. However, in a 34 alignment, he'd be playing more of a gap control role, which he excels at. Maybe the best player in the draft at shedding blocks, an NFL-sized OL is almost required to block him. He is not a great pass rusher, he often gets in the backfield with his sheer size and strength and makes plays with his length, but I think he'd have a hard time finishing sacks in the NFL. The bottom line with Watt is he might be a prospect on the board when Buffalo picks in the 2nd round. He's an extremely large and strong prospect that I think will end up being a solid run defender in the NFL, ala Keisel of the Steelers.
There are a lot of fans that seem to be pretty high on Heyward, I'm assuming they're Ohio State fans. He was pretty disappointing to watch on film. He lacks the athleticism to play DE and the size to play inside. He has a VERY limited pass rush repertoire and has very poor balance. He actually looks drunk sometimes as he gets knocked off balance and lumbers around. He is pretty strong, and has an OK bull rush. His overall lack of athleticism will keep him from making an impact in the NFL, there were a couple of times where teams forgot to block him and he still couldn't finish the play in the backfield. Can anchor and play the run well enough to be a depth guy but I don't envision him as a starter except on a bad team. He had some big games but disappeared against good opponents (Oregon and Wisconsin, in particular). Bottom line is I wouldn't draft him, he is not an upgrade over any player on the roster, not talent or potential-wise.
A good athlete for a big man. Very strong. There weren't many college OL that had success at stoning him. He's always moving toward the ball because of his sheer size and strength. He gets pressure, but not sacks. He's another DL prospect that usually needs a missed block to get his sacks. But he does excel at disrupting blocking schemes and setting up his LB's to make plays. So he's seemingly a good fit for Buffalo, but he's a bit of a project player because he hasn't figured out when to shed the block to make the play on the ball carrier (like most college DL). There's plenty of potential here for him to be a superb run defender that gets the occasional sack. The bottom line on Bailey is he might be a bit of a reach in the 2nd if you're looking for immediate impact... but down the road he should become a good 34 DE. The biggest red flag for Bailey is his football instincts are marginal, he'll definitely over-penetrate and lose containment sometimes.
Just a beastly natural athlete. Doesn't have a build or bulk that jumps out at you but he's just a hard man to block. His motor runs hot and cold, when he turns it on he' s unblockable. He's not a great technician but treats OL like their nuisances. When he's being blocked and taken out of plays is when his motor gets cold. Not sure how that mentality will translate to the NFL because he will inevitably struggle with the increased competition. He definitely classifies as a penetrator, rather than a block-eater. He can play inside in a 43, but from what I saw he performed better playing on the edge of Bama's 34. If he matures and learns to be more consistent down in and down out he'll be a very disruptive player against the run and pass. The bottom line on Dareus is that he's a tremendous talent but a risky selection in the Top 10. All of the players I've watched so far go balls to the wall on every play, and Dareus is the 1st one that doesn't. I'm not investing that kind of a pick/money in a player with a question mark like that. Very talented, but I would need to have a chat with everyone who knows him before I could pull the trigger on taking him about his character/work ethic. Based on film study alone, I steer clear of guys that don't bring it on every play.
Wow. I would argue Nick Fairley was just about as dominant as Ndomakung Suh last season. He' consistently the first player off the ball and simply could not be blocked one-on-one. Tremendous agility for a 6'5" 300 pounder. He doesn't even have a panorama of pass rush moves. Extremely disruptive at the highest level of college football. I'd say he excels at shedding blocks, but it rarely gets to the point where he is blocked. Splits double teams with ease. Excellent acceleration, agility, and range to finish plays when he beats his man (or men). Consistently collapses the pocket and is always moving toward the QB. A classic penetrator. If he's not directly disrupting the play he's being schemed against and opens his teammates up to plays. The bottom line on Fairley is he is a perfect guy to take 3rd overall. He's an undeniable talent with bona fide, almost self-made production in the toughest conference of college football. He was a JUCO transfer, so his rap sheet is thin, but this isn't Da'Quan Bowers type of production. Nick Fairley made and earned every play in his impressive stat-line, and that projects well to continued production.
Solid, solid prospect. He's only 6'1" and maybe the most compact 311 lbs I've ever seen. He actually is cut like a MLB. Very good athlete with the quickness and agility to make plays up and down the LOS. Very powerful and uses his power to punch OL back. Very good at piggy-backing blockers toward the ball carrier and then shedding the to make the play. Very good at shedding blocks for a collegiate athlete. He played a lot in a 2-4-5 and 2-3-6 front, so he saw a lot of double teams, and faired pretty well against them. His height gives him outstanding natural leverage ala Kyle Williams. He would be a good fit in any defensive scheme. Paea could even add weight and play NT. No doubt he can play the 5 tech. The bottom line is not good. He's not quite No. 3 material, but he's definitely better than No. 34 material. So the chances of him being there when Buffalo picks short of a trade up are slim. His upside is thru the roof considering he came to the states when he was 16 and had never played football before. He's going to shoot up draft board when scouts see his workout numbers, he is a human muscle. Would love to see him in one of the Bills new uni's. Definitely one of my favorite prospects to grade.
Tall, long, and strong athlete. Was a hard guy to move against the run. Uses his long arms well to keep blockers off him. Has good natural strength and balance and doesn't spend a lot of time on the ground. He did well playing at both DE and DT. He struggled with stunts and exotic blitzes. Definitely has a good get-off for a big guy and routinely pushes OL back. Didn't have stupendous production for a defensive end, but he was definitely a solid piece to Iowa's defense. He's not much of a pass rusher, but he's a good football player. The bottom line is, if the better prospects are all gone before pick No. 34, Ballard would not be the best player available, but a nice consolation prize if Buffalo is really looking to upgrade the DL.
Well that's it. There was definitely more guys than I thought there would be. It's a good draft for defensive linemen, to say the least. If I had to rank these prospects...
1. Nick Fairley
2. Stephen Paea
3. Cameron Jordan
4. J.J. Watt
5. Marcell Dareus
6. Allen Bailey
7. Christian Ballard
8. Cameron Heyward
Thanks for reading y'all, comments appreciated.