EDGE Fits For The Buffalo Bills

Photo of Miami (transfer) EDGE Quincy Roche from newsbreak.com.

The #Bills aren’t done at EDGE.

Our BillsMafia Depth Chart shows a 32-year-old (Addison) and a 31-year-old (Hughes), both likely gone by 2022. Darryl Johnson, Quinton Jefferson, and A.J. Epenesa can hold down the fort in the short-term, but via Free Agency and the 2020 Draft (by the end of Day 2), Beane’s likely to have at least a quartet of versatile EDGE rushers who can (a) pressure the passer, (b) be productive in a “sacks-per-game” metric, (c) tackle effectively, and (d) drop into coverage.

Last year, I mentioned A.J. Epenesa as an A+ Fit for the Bills. At the time I wrote last year’s fits (mid-May), Epenesa was #5 on the DraftTek Big Board. Jonathon Cooper and Daelin Hayes decided to return to school, and they’re still in play from that article.

I’ll take a foolhardy stab at guessing which round these players go. The media is saying it’s not a great EDGE class, but the problem is, the demand is pretty high, per DraftTek team analysts. It’s supply and demand.

ROUND 1

Photo of Miami (transfer) EDGE Quincy Roche from nbcsports.com and Getty Images.

Quincy Roche OLB EDGE Miami
RS Senior
6’4” 235 4.54
Rank in Draft Class:
#1 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#2 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#3 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
A grad transfer from Temple, Roche has only one year of eligibility remaining since he played 3 seasons in Philly with the Owls. He’ll now have plenty of help on the Miami Hurricane D-Line. In 2019 Quincy was pretty much the guy to double-team on Temple, but he still managed 49 tackles and 13 sacks, including this one, where he just slaps down the blocker’s low-setting hands and collapses the inside shoulder. Roche “runs the hoop” tightly, and gets the sack. Quincy mentions in an interview here that he’d like to take his run-defense game to the next level. It’s already the best in this class, mind you. There’s some Von Miller to his game. Watch This!
I have him going #5 this year –Epenesa’s old Big Board spot. FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Oregon State EDGE Hamilcar Rashad from nfldraftdiamonds.com.

Hamilcar Rashed OLB EDGE Oregon State
RS Senior
6’4” 236 4.54
Rank in Draft Class:
#2 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#5 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#2 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
I thought maybe Rashed would declare for the NFL Draft after setting Oregon State single-season records in tackles for loss and sacks, which were good enough to be #2 in the upcoming draft class, but he returned for his redshirt year. Hamilcar Rashed is one of my most favorite players in the draft, and shows it with lightning-quick speed and unrelenting energy. He’s the whole package. You’d have his size and speed to get involved in both the pass and rush game from both the OLB and EDGE roles, covering lots of territory. He very well could be your next LorAx. He’s humble and hungry, as you hear in this interview, so he’ll fit into the room. Jordan Poyer and Isaiah Hodgins would be glad to have another Oregon State player in the mix. In 2019, Rashed racked up 62 total tackles, 14 sacks, and forced 2 fumbles. Hamilcar will give you some more PAC-12 games to watch this year, but you won’t find many players as productive out west. I’m about to become a PAC man. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Kansas St. EDGE Wyatt Hubert from 247sports.com.

Wyatt Hubert EDGE Kansas St
RS Junior
6’3″ 258 4.72
Rank in Draft Class:
#8 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#7 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#8 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Highlights
Hubert was named PFF’s highest-graded returning Big 12 edge defender, on a team that featured one of the best defenses in the country. This was despite being led by a first-year head coach (Chris Klieman from North Dakota State). K-State plays a physical brand of disciplined football, much like the Bills, and Hubert was a beneficiary, putting up big numbers (30 TKL, 7 SACK, 12.5 TFL, 7 QBH). He’s captured  the second-most sacks ever by a K-State player prior to his junior season, trailing only the great Darren Howard (RD2, Saints). He’s shown he can disrupt the QB in more ways than one. Hubert’s DC was Scottie Hazelton, former DC and LB Coach at Wyoming. Hazelton ranked in the top 25 in total defense and top 30 in scoring defense while he was there. Head Coach Klieman says: “His technique is so good, he’s so physical and he’s got a motor that just doesn’t stop.” Hubert’s example and charisma led him to be named a team captain as a sophomore, which rarely happens at KSU. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Wake Forest OLB EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. from 247sports.com.

Carlos Basham Jr. OLB EDGE Wake Forest
RS Senior
6’5″ 275 4.74
Rank in Draft Class:
#3 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#9 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#18 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
Brandon Beane’s home is 74 miles down NC-109 from Wake Forest, and while he hasn’t officially sent scouts to Demon Deacons games in his tenure, he just might make the trip this year. Wake Forest has more LBs in the NFL than any other position. “Boogie” Basham possesses advanced pass-rushing skills and just makes plays, more due to his never-give-up effort and high motor, as well as film study during game week. He says he owes his preparation and play to his mentor, Duke Ejiofor (RD6, Texans): “When I finally got to play, we stayed after and watched film. We watched other games to study technique and implement it ourselves.” Boogie enters his senior season with 31 career tackles for loss and 15.5 career sacks, which ranks sixth in the NCAA. Basham excels at setting the OT up outside, then using that quick inside swim move. More for his nonstop effort than for his nickname, this guy has BillsMafia written all over him. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye from 247sports.com.

ROUND 1-2

Kwity Paye EDGE Michigan
Senior 6’4” 277
Rank in Draft Class:
#11 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#10 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#16 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
Kwity Paye is a solid contributor on the Wolverines, both on the field and in the classroom. He’s a two-time All-Big-Ten academic and athletic honoree. That alone gets a second look from the Bills. Look at his stats; Paye has improved exponentially each year, and I expect this year to be the eye-opener. He’s also been extremely reliable, as he’s appeared in 34 games over three seasons. Paye has only one thing going against him: his hometown, Providence, R.I.; that’s Pats Country. Kiper’s #5 DE was a second-team selection in 2019, racking up 50 tackles (12 1/2 for a loss), 6 1/2 sacks, and three QBH. Listen to him talk about team being family, and dealing with outside distractions here. It sure strikes harmonics with the culture McBeane is building here. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux from latimes.com.

Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE Oregon
RS Sophomore
6’5″ 242 4.53
Rank in Draft Class:
#35 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#3 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#4 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
As you’ve guessed from Thibodeaux’s rank in solo tackles, Kayvon is likely pass-rush only, but he really gets after it. I’ve seen him listed as a OLB/DE, and maybe he can learn to tackle, but he’s not doing that like Roche, Rashed, and Basham. Matt Leinart picked Thibodeaux as the best candidate to become a household name in 2020. As Oregon’s top pass rusher Thibodeaux has become one of the pressure cookers in the PAC-12. Watch any game in the second half of the season, and you’ll see Thibodeaux wreak havoc. There is an intrinsic desire that Beane will see aligning with the way Bills players do business. Listen to Coach Mario Cristobal: “He takes a lot of pride in what he does. Not just playing the game and getting sacks, but technique, using his hands playing the run, knocking back tight ends, knocking back tackles, getting signals from the sideline and passing down calls, making adjustments. Your tells and your tips. The guy’s hungry to be an elite football player.” Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A.

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 07: Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Patrick Jones II (91) reads the quarterback during the College football game between the Ohio Bobcats and the Pittsburgh Panthers on September 7, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Patrick Jones II EDGE Pittsburgh
RS Senior
6’5″ 260 4.73
Rank in Draft Class:
#19 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#18 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#13 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Highlights
Jones’ play strength is perhaps the best in the draft class, and McBeane likes high bench-press numbers. He can set the edge better than the Top 3, and our defense likes to steer ballcarriers where they want them to go. Last season, Jones had 18 quarterback hurries, 12 tackles for loss, eight-and-a-half sacks, and an impressive four forced fumbles.
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

Photo of Miami EDGE Jaelan Phillips from 247sports.com.

Jaelan Phillips EDGE Miami
RS Junior
6’5″ 255 4.52
Rank in Draft Class:
#30 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#11 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#11 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
Jaelan is another pure pass rusher. The Hoof Podcast host, Sterling Furrowh, is a big fan of Phillips, and so am I. Jaelan is a former UCLA Bruin, the number one signee in the country in 2017. When he wasn’t injured, he was effective (16 tackles, 7 for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 2017, 12 tackles and a sack in the 2018 season). Fast-forward to 18 months later due to transfer rules, and he’ll be playing with Rousseau and Roche in September in South Beach (God willing and the creek don’t rise). Yes, there’ll be a lot of help for Phillips allowing him to pile up statistics, so he’ll require a close look. Anyone already have a Phillips jersey? Yeah, me too. All the more reason to draft him. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A+.

ROUND 2

Photo of Duke OLB EDGE Victor Dimukeje from 247sports.com.

Victor Dimukeje OLB EDGE Duke
Junior 6’2″ 265 4.72
Rank in Draft Class:
#5 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#22 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#20 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
I am most impressed by Dimukeje’s tackling, although he displays a very good beginner tool set for pass-rush prowess as he matures: Quick getoff, nice bull rush, has done work from 2-point, etc. He’s 3rd among Returning ACC Edge Defenders in Pass Rush Productivity, and could even be better, but he needs to work on his balance and gain some more strength. I don’t expect he’ll declare. He earned Second Team All-ACC honors after finishing with 41 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and 10 quarterback hurries in 2019. Dimukeje’s 8.5 sacks were the most by a Blue Devil in a season since 2002, In 38 career games, all starts, Dimukeje has 122 tackles, 24.5 TFL, 14.0 sacks, one INT, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 PBUs and 23 QB pressures. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: A-

Photo of Tulane OLB EDGE Patrick Johnson from tulanegreenwave.com.

Patrick Johnson OLB EDGE Tulane
Senior
6’2″ 255 4.75
Rank in Draft Class:
#4 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#14 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#12 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
Patrick Johnson’s career began inauspiciously, where he floundered at 4-tech, but now that Tulane moved him to Joker, the primary pass rusher, it’s made all the difference. After an adjustment period of 4 games, Johnson picked up a sack every week, finishing with 10. Johnson also racked up TFLs during that same period, ending up with 14. He also deflected 5 passes and forced 4 fumbles, showing the play disruption in multiple forms that Beane talks about. Just imagine how good he’ll be this year, as those stats were earned playing a new position. His comp is Melvin Ingram, which is apt, because that’s Patrick Johnson’s idol. Johnson lines up on either side of the defensive formation and has to be able to beat both stronger right tackles and rangier left tackles off the edge. Excellent tackler. Although Johnson plays in a 3-4, Tulane’s scheme does what the Bills do with their EDGE rusher, often dropping Patrick back in coverage to confuse the QB. But he’s at his best rushing the passer from the edge. Watch This!
FIT FOR BILLS: B.

ROUND 3

CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 29: UCLA (DL) Osa Odighizuwa (92) during a college football game between the UCLA Bruins and Cincinnati Bearcats on August 29, 2019 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.)

Osa Odighizuwa EDGE UCLA
RS Junior
6’2” 280 4.74
Rank in Draft Class:
#7 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#15 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#25 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Read This
Highlights
FIT FOR BILLS: A+

Photo of Ohio State EDGE Jonathon Cooper from elevenwarriors.com.

Jonathon Cooper EDGE Ohio State
RS Senior
6’3″ 250 4.47
Rank in Draft Class:
#33 IN CAREER SOLO TACKLES
#33 IN TACKLES FOR LOSS PER GAME
#28 IN SACKS PER GAME
Stats
Highlights
Cooper fails to meet the Top 20 in each of the categories, but it’s because he’s at Ohio State, and market share isn’t taken into account when looking at these stats. Plus he has a new coordinator on defense. Cooper appeared in only four games in 2019 (high ankle sprain), so he medical redshirted in order to return for a fifth season. Injuries pushed his stats and media buzz down –too far down. I liked him 2 years ago, and he’s just more experienced. Next to Oweh, I bet he’ll have the second-fastest forty time in his draft class.
FIT FOR BILLS: A

BEST OF THE REST (In My Order of Preference):

Chauncey Golston EDGE Iowa RS Senior 6’5″ 255 4.8 –Epenesa’s sidekick has had plenty of scout looks by the Bills. Golston’s a Lott IMPACT Trophy Finalist (IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity) and the recipient of Iowa’s Team Hustle Award.

Aidan Hutchinson EDGE, DT3T Michigan Junior 6’5″ 278 4.74—Passion and strength plus his outstanding size reminds me of a bigger Leighton Vander Esch (OLB/DE, RD1#18, Cowboys). Hutchinson will be a draft riser. You heard about him here first.

LaRon Stokes EDGE Oklahoma Junior 6’4” 269 4.7 —Stokes’ coach said this guy has been the most consistent player on his defense from Day One, and he’s a “quick study” per Lincoln Riley. Riley loves Stokes’ competitive nature, and leverages that in practice by mixing up the ones and the twos. It just sounded like McDermott’s way of doing things.

Shaka Toney OLB EDGE Penn State RS Senior 6’3″ 240 4.62—Mustipher: “he’s going to have your best interests at heart because he really cares about you and cares about the team as a whole.” Leader par excellence.

Jayson Oweh EDGE Penn State RS Sophomore 6’5″ 260 4.33—Arguably the fastest front-seven NFL player in two decades. He was 6th on BruceFeldmanCFB’s “Freaks List” in 2019. Of 207 pass-rushes, Oweh had 31 pressures & 20% win rate. Shaka Toney’s bookend.

JaQuan Bailey EDGE Iowa State Senior 6’2″ 251 4.83—Most games played in his EDGE class. 4th among NCAA returnees in TFLs, but leg injury, ankle injury, lack of speed, and depth of the Cyclones at DE will drop him. What you can’t write off is Bailey’s competitive grit. Teammate: “JaQuan — he’s an animal. He’s relentless. When you say he can’t do something, he’s going to prove you wrong.”

Xavier Thomas EDGE Clemson Junior 6’2″ 265 4.53—First-rounder on DraftTek’s initial BB…Explosive, Brian Burns clone, but I’m not jumping on the XT Train just yet. We’ll have to see if he’s profiting from those around him before moving him up. 26 pressures on 150 pass-rushing snaps as freshman, but couldn’t sustain it as a sophomore. Concussion was at play for sure, but that doesn’t seem like the whole story..

Rashad Weaver EDGE Pittsburgh RS Senior 6’5″ 260 4.74 —Patrick Jones’ sidekick and Bills RD7 Dane Jackson’s teammate. He suffered a right ACL tear that caused him to miss the 2019 season, but his 2018 was impressive enough to keep an eye on him this year.

Justin Foster EDGE Clemson Senior 6’4” 250 4.6 —Xavier Thomas’ bookend. He’s played plenty of OLB, as well as DE dropping into coverage. He has the speed, just not the explosion of Thomas. He uses his long arms effectively to keep clean of those nasty O-Linemen.

Eyioma Uwazurike EDGE Iowa St RS Senior 6’6″ 285 4.86 —JaQuan Bailey’s bookend, and he’s just imposing. The real elephant in the room is his alleged theft of a $6.99 shoe rack from an Ames, Iowa WalMart. You can’t make this stuff up. He plays in a 3-4 for the Cyclones.

William Bradley-King OLB EDGE Baylor Junior 6’4” 248 4.75 —JACK OLB and critical piece for first-year head coach Dave Aranda. He does keep his eyes on the ball, but has some difficulty separating from his blocker, seemed hesitant at times and late to the party.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Dean Kindig, as always, for providing a wealth of information and something to satisfy our desire for any kind of sports news. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.