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Buffalo Bills could be leaning pass rusher in 2021 NFL Draft

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had his way with the Buffalo Bills’ defense in the AFC Championship Game this past January. In the Super Bowl, he was pressured by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ pass rush and couldn’t play the hero. Two games with two very different outcomes.

Heading into this offseason, the Bills knew they had to upgrade their pass defense but to this point haven’t done a lot to address that. They re-signed several key members of their defense, but their only major addition is the return of Star Lotulelei to the defensive line after sitting out 2020 on the COVID-exempt list. Perhaps they are banking on growth from 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa. Defensive end Efe Obada and linebackers Tyrell Adams and Marquel Lee aren’t likely to be starters heading into the 2021 NFL season.

Buffalo’s director of player personnel Dan Morgan was on Eric Wood’s podcast this week and may have given some insight into how the team will be approaching the 2021 NFL Draft. Wood asked Morgan how the team gets over the hump to the Super Bowl. (Starts at the 23-minute mark.) After his discussion about retaining key players like Daryl Williams, Matt Milano, and Jon Feliciano, he moved on to talk about the NFL Draft.

“Second step is filling in some missing pieces,” continued Morgan. “Without divulging too much information on where we might go in the Draft, but you find out... what hurt us last year, in the big games what were we missing, why did we lose that game.”

After watching the Chiefs get manhandled up front by the Bucs, it seems pretty clear the front four and the pass rush would be the answer to this question. They couldn’t do enough with the pass rush in the games they lost or struggled to win in 2020, and then in the playoffs, the lack of pass rush hurt them in their big games.

“There’s all types of stuff through analytics [and] through watching the tape,” said Morgan. “You can gather so much information on your team that... and then you make those decisions. Hopefully we get to the Super Bowl sooner than later and win one and bring it back to Buffalo.”

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off later this month. You can find all of our coverage here.