clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2020 NFL Draft: Finding a new Lorax

New, comments

Lorenzo Alexander retired, here’s some future rookies that could replace him

A player brought in almost as an afterthought by the Doug Whaley/Rex Ryan Buffalo Bills regime, Lorenzo Alexander was signed to a one-year, $885,000 free-agent contract to provide depth and special teams value in 2016. However, presumed rookie starting pass rusher Shaq Lawson required preseason surgery, Alexander capably stepped in and recorded a 12.5-sack season at the ripe old age of 33. With head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier taking over the very next year and enacting more of a traditional 4-3 defense, Alexander began playing a role as more of a designated blitzer and occasional spy. However, at age 36, Alexander announced following the 2019 season that he would be retiring. That ostensibly leaves Buffalo with an opening at the outside linebacker/part-time pass-rushing position. Below are some players from the upcoming draft who would be able to fill a similar role on the team.

Tier I

Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
Zack Baun (Wisconsin)

Perhaps not the greatest block shedder, Murray plays like his hair is on fire and manages to make plays and tackles all over the field. He has the ability to be a jack-of-all-trades. Baun is used to playing several different roles on the Wisconsin defense, thanks to coordinator Jim Leonard. The senior isn’t the most adept at coverage responsibilities, but he can certainly rush the passer.

Tier II

Jordyn Brooks (Texas Tech)
Chris Orr (Wisconsin)

Brooks is more of a weak-side linebacker who excels at dipping under blocks or through gaps, and he may be the best blitzer on this list. Baun’s teammate in college, Orr doesn’t have great size, but is a very physical rusher with a high motor. He refuses to give up when attacking the quarterback.

Tier III

Carter Coughlin (Minnesota)
Caleb Kelly (Oklahoma)
Kendall Coleman (Syracuse)

Unlike most of players on this list, Coughlin has the coverage chops to stick with running backs and tight ends, even if he’s pretty raw as a true pass rusher. A former five-start recruit, Kelly is a bit stiff and has numerous injury concerns, but you have to like his physicality and willingness to sacrifice his body. A full-time defensive end for the Orange, Coleman flashes an ability to turn the corner and be a true threat as a designated pass rusher.