We’re counting down the best, most important, most impressive early career Buffalo Bills. These players are the closest thing to a “farm system” for an NFL team, and ideally they’re playing major roles in the team’s success. For every Von Miller the team’s signing in free agency, they’re only able to work that tactic by supporting him with a handful of younger, cost-controlled players.
The number-four spot on our list is awarded to Greg Rousseau. Last year he was one of the youngest rookies in the league, but he was also a starting defensive end for the Bills from day one. He’s believed to have some of the highest upside of any of the players on the roster.
The list so far
- Number 5: RB Devin Singletary
- Number 6: CB Kaiir Elam
- Number 7: OL Ryan Bates
- Number 8: DT Tim Settle
- Number 9: K Tyler Bass
- Number 10: OT Spencer Brown
- Honorable mentions: Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Zack Moss, James Cook
Number 4: DE Greg Rousseau (Turned 22 on April 5)
Greg Rousseau’s rookie season may not have dropped jaws like Micah Parsons’s, but for a guy who’d really only played one season of football in the previous three years, he looked right at home in the NFL. The Bills were comfortable playing him as a starter from opening day onward, and although he only played 49% of snaps on the defense, that number still ranked second-most among the team’s edge rushers.
Four sacks in 17 games was a solid result, which ranked fourth among the NFL’s drafted rookies. The underlying metrics were also encouraging—ten QB hits and 24 pressures indicated that Rousseau was getting close to a big play even though he wasn’t able to finish every time.
Other stats suggest Rousseau’s right on track towards bigger and better things. He led all rookie defensive linemen in solo tackles with 42 (not counting Parsons, who began the year as a linebacker and had more chase-and-tackle responsibilities as a result). More solo tackles means more instances where Rousseau was disengaging from the offensive line, finding the ball carrier, and bringing him down with his own individual efforts.
Rousseau’s run defense is a little harder to track without diving into film analysis or proprietary statistics, but the word from those sources is that it was very good. He had eight tackles for a losss, which tied for third on the Bills behind Matt Milano and Ed Oliver.
All in all, there is plenty to be happy about with the 21 year old. He played like he belonged in the NFL, as one of the youngest and least-experienced players from last season, and his size and apparent athleticism can have folks dreaming of a player filling the Jerry Hughes or even Aaron Schobel role for this team over the next decade.