When the Buffalo Bills went about revamping their defensive line during the 2021 offseason, they had a clear profile in mind. In truth, adding length to the defensive line was something that started last year with the selection of A.J. Epenesa, but general manager Brandon Beane continued to add long, powerful players to his defensive line throughout the spring and summer of this year.
Part of that addition meant spending not one, but two high draft choices on more defensive ends. In a league that starts and ends with the quarterback, it makes sense that teams would like to have a stable of players capable of disrupting the opposing signal caller. In a conference with Patrick Mahomes, that want becomes a need rather quickly.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile Buffalo’s top draft choice from the 2021 NFL Draft.
Name: Greg Rousseau
Height/Weight: 6’6” 266 lbs
Age: 21 (22 on 4/5/2022)
Experience/Draft: R; selected by Buffalo in the first round (No. 30 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Rousseau signed a four-year deal with an option for the fifth year, as is standard for first-round picks. The total value of the contract is a fully guaranteed $11,367,075. Rousseau’s cap hit for 2021 is set to be $2,110,582.
2020 Recap: Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we have to go back to 2019 for any football recaps involving him. In that 2019 season, he was a tremendous force on defense, totaling 54 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 19.5 tackles-for-loss in 13 games. Rousseau was named First-Team All-ACC for his efforts. In the lead-up to the NFL Draft, Rousseau’s testing indicates a phenomenal athlete, as he ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, had a 115” broad jump, had a 7.5-second three-cone time, and managed a 30” vertical leap at his size.
Positional outlook: Rousseau is one of many along the edge for the Bills, though he could kick inside in pass-rushing situations. Jerry Hughes, A.J. Epenesa, Mario Addison, Efe Obada, Carlos Basham Jr., Mike Love, and Darryl Johnson Jr. are the other defensive ends on the roster at the moment. Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, Justin Zimmer, Eli Ankou, Brandin Bryant, and Treyvon Hester are the defensive tackles.
2021 Offseason: Rousseau is healthy and participating in training camp. He’s also been an absolute menace if most camp reports are to be believed.
2021 Season outlook: Opinions weren’t all rosy about Rousseau—some evaluators thought he was a one-year wonder while others saw untapped potential—but Rousseau’s early camp performance is good news for the Bills, who desperately need their pass rush to improve if they want to take the next step on the field. The man known as “Groot” probably won’t start as a rookie, but he’s almost certain to play at least a third of the snaps this year. While that doesn’t sound like much, head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier both like to rotate their defensive line heavily, so expect the Bills to keep running waves of fresh rushers out there all year long. The Bills have the depth to do it, and Rousseau should be able to cause problems in opposing backfields as a rookie.