The Buffalo Bills have used picked 54 in the 2020 NFL Draft to take Iowa pass rusher A.J. Epenesa. He will slot in as the team’s third or fourth defensive end in 2020, but have a chance to break out in an expanded role a year from now. The Bills were able to stay put at their original draft position and hold onto draft capital, too.
“He was once considered a round 1 lock, but didn’t measure up as athletically as his competition,” said Dan Lavoie in our Day 2 preview. “A classic 4-3 defensive end who wins with power and by having a pass rush plan.”
“A power rusher through-and-through, Epenesa is a poor athlete but got the job done against Big Ten offensive tackles on a weekly bases nonetheless thanks to his strength and hands,” said Andrew Griffin.
Epenesa had 11.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and four forced fumbles in 2019 to earn second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press.
The pick makes sense when you look at Buffalo’s aging defensive ends. Trent Murphy turns 30 this year and has one year left on his deal. Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes are both heading into their mid-30s. Buffalo doesn’t have a young pass rusher and Epenesa fits the mold snuggly.
Boss just texted, “What is going on with AJ Epenesa?” Had a chat with a personnel guy who predicted he’d slide. “Just nothing exceptional about him. But watch, in a few years we’ll all say, ‘He’s just a really good player and we totally overthought that.’”— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 25, 2020
AJ Epenesa and his family celebrating after finding out he had been drafted by the #Bills. pic.twitter.com/Xsy8BgXTsI— Bradley Gelber (@BradleyGelber) April 25, 2020
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