Looking at the Buffalo Bills’ roster, defensive end might not scream out as a need. When you dive in to the contracts and numbers, it becomes clear that a defensive end is definitely in the mix for round one of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Jerry Hughes is entering the final year of his deal. Shaq Lawson is likely entering the final year of his deal. Trent Murphy was not good at generating pressure a year ago and struggled coming back from injury. Eddie Yarbrough was benched in favor of undrafted rookie Mike Love down the stretch. A top-end pass rusher could really help out.
Enter Montez Sweat, the Mississippi State defensive end. He has the ability to generate pressure and can get to the quarterback.
Sweat recently announced he wouldn’t be attending the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, so he could spend that time with his family who helped him reach this goal. If that’s not a process answer that screams Sean McDermott, I don’t know what is.
In the early part of his college career, Sweat was suspended by Michigan State, reportedly for marijuana use. He eventually transferred to junior college and subsequently Mississippi State, but has kept on the right side of team rules since leaving the Spartans.
Unlike other pass-rush options like Brian Burns, Sweat fits the bill for a McDermott pass rusher, as well. At 6’6” and 260 lbs, Sweat is the same size as Trent Murphy, the largest new piece of the defensive end puzzle since McDermott’s arrival. His arms are longer than Murphy’s—which should help to keep defenders off him.
Carolina only drafted two defensive ends while Sean McDermott was defensive coordinator: Kony Ealy in 2014 and Frank Alexander in 2012. Ealy measured 6’4” and 273 lbs at the Combine and Alexander was 6’4” and 270 lbs.
Several draft analysts compare Sweat to Minnesota Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter, but we’re going to look at Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney, the former first overall pick of the Houston Texans, came into the NFL Combine at 6’5” and 266 lbs, with 34 1/2-inch arms. He also turned in similar otherworldly results during the track and field testing at the Combine. Hunter is lighter and has shorter arms than both Sweat and Clowney.
Sample play: SAM blitz
By Dan Lavoie
With his dangerous strength and speed, Sweat commands extra attention around the edge, including with his assignments on the strong side of the formation. Because he has the strength to push back a double team or the speed to split it, he’s a great focal point for this SAM blitz. The strong side linebacker will also rush from the same side as Sweat, hoping to create a free rushing lane for one of the two. The defensive end on the other side plays contain, cleaning up the quarterback if he’s flushed from the pocket. Sweat is marked with his college number nine.
Allowing Sweat to come in and learn during the final year on the contracts of Hughes and Lawson would be a great start to his career, while replacing the similarly sized Trent Murphy on pass-rush downs could be a great short-term option to get him acclimated to the NFL. If his medical checks out and if he’s truly past the suspension from three years ago, Sweat seems like a great fit in Buffalo.