When the Buffalo Bills drafted Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau to kick off their 2021 NFL Draft, it was easy to see the justification for the choice. A pair of aging starters, a second-round pick who hadn’t come into his own... it was easy to see where Rousseau fit in.
You can use the same justification for Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. In fact, it’s kind of difficult to understand how Basham and Rousseau both fit into the Bills’ defense. Basham doesn’t have Rousseau’s length, at 6’3” and 274 lbs. He’s a good all-around athlete for a defensive end, especially considering the bulk on his frame. His top selling point is his ability to shift his pass rush inside for a tricky change-up against interior linemen—same as Rousseau’s.
Let’s be clear that Basham is definitely a talented end—he was a three-year starter with excellent production in his career, and offers a solid power rush that can play against the pass or the run. The NASCAR package can now feature Hughes-Rousseau-Basham-Addison, and that doesn’t even count last year’s second-round pick, A.J. Epenesa. But...what is the marginal gain here? How many pressures can Rousseau and Basham generate, rotating with everyone else on the roster? Are the Bills planning to cut one of their veterans, now that they revamped the room?
To be fair, the Bills’ roster already has depth in many places. So it’s hard for a rookie to break into the lineup. General manager Brandon Beane already called that out, saying his plan was focused on the long term. But it doesn’t make sense to commit two second rounders and a first rounder on all these edge rushers when they won’t have room to play. What’s the best case scenario? Basham, Epenesa or Rousseau outplays ten-year veteran Mario Addison and breaks into the starting lineup? Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, who was drafted a few picks after Basham, would’ve balanced the Bills’ selections better.
No, the only way this works is if the Bills intend to release one of their veterans. Keeping Efe Obada and Darryl Johnson in mind, there just isn’t room for all these players. Could Mario Addison be on the outs?
Three years from now, we might all be thanking Brandon Beane for building the foundation of a low-cost talented defensive line through the draft. Today, it’s hard to see the value.