June 19, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) does a drill during the Bills minicamp at the Ralph Wilson Stadium practice field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
In an 11-month span, the Buffalo Bills built a potentially dominant defensive line. They already had Pro Bowl tackle Kyle Williams on the roster, and in April of 2011, they made Marcell Dareus the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. The following March, they made two free agent ends - Mario Williams and Mark Anderson - rich dudes (the former being a very rich dude).
No one doubts that this defensive line has the potential to rank among the league's best. But are they there already? SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber thinks so, ranking the Bills as the No. 4 defensive line in all of football.
I'm no staunch optimist, by any means, but I'm also not at all averse to getting excited about things worth getting excited about. Buffalo's revamped defensive line is most definitely worth getting excited about. Yet a No. 4 overall ranking strikes me as a bit rich. But maybe that's just me.
That's not to say, of course, that the Bills' defensive line doesn't have No. 4 overall potential (or even better potential, to be frank). They just haven't done anything yet - and as the Detroit Lions showed last year with their own (still highly-ranked by RVB) defensive line, what appears imminent on paper doesn't always come to fruition.
Still, I look at the ranking and I'm not sure which team (aside from those already ranked ahead of Buffalo, especially the New York Giants) that I'd move ahead of the Bills. Probably Philadelphia; their ends are already outstanding. Maybe Houston, and I might consider Minnesota based purely on how unbelievable Jared Allen is. Still, that puts Buffalo in the conversation to be a Top 5 line; maybe my problem is just with a ranking like this, or is simply a matter of general discomfort with pre-season expectations.
It's most definitely fair, however, to expect the Bills to field a Top 5 defensive line this season. There's no question about that. They've paid a premium price to acquire they talent they now have on hand, and their investments need to pay off. I just don't know if I can say that they're there yet. Can you?