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Bills ability to draft and develop D linemen


Comebackkid
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I've been thinking about this for a while and dont remember much in the way of a direct post bringing this up.   

I'll follow that statement up with saying i have a short memory at times as well.

 

The Bills it seems have always  been great at developing CB's.   when McDermott took over  we changed from man to mostly zone.   Brought in 

Trey with a high draft pick and knocked it out of the park. then have been able to develop jags to step in and play very well.

 

We jump to the D line and both in drafting and developing it seems to me we dont have the same ability.

In four years not one home run draft pick.   Ed has been playing well along with Harrison but both took a long time to develop.   Groot might be 

the top pick to hit the ground running and I still wouldnt call him a home run hit.   

 

Then we have the guys like star that were brought in to plug holes but seemed to me their contracts were pretty high for the talent and play level they provided.

 

So, whats your guys consensus on this?....   Is this a real problem?   If so how do we fix it/Improve?

 

 

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There were people here this time last year that wanted Phillips and Oliver gone. Both were very solid last season.

 

Sometimes it takes time. Not often a DL pick comes in and hits the ground running. Both Groot and Boogie flashed this season at times. Let's see where they are in 2-3 years. Yea, it's not fun waiting to see a guy develop however Beane's strategy has always been "Win today and win tomorrow". 

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Just now, Comebackkid said:

I've been thinking about this for a while and dont remember much in the way of a direct post bringing this up.   

I'll follow that statement up with saying i have a short memory at times as well.

 

The Bills it seems have always  been great at developing CB's.   when McDermott took over  we changed from man to mostly zone.   Brought in 

Trey with a high draft pick and knocked it out of the park. then have been able to develop jags to step in and play very well.

 

We jump to the D line and both in drafting and developing it seems to me we dont have the same ability.

In four years not one home run draft pick.   Ed has been playing well along with Harrison but both took a long time to develop.   Groot might be 

the top pick to hit the ground running and I still wouldnt call him a home run hit.   

 

Then we have the guys like star that were brought in to plug holes but seemed to me their contracts were pretty high for the talent and play level they provided.

 

So, whats your guys consensus on this?....   Is this a real problem?   If so how do we fix it/Improve?

 

 


I think it's a reasonable observation.

For whatever reason, some teams DO seem to have a certain eye for drafting and developing certain positions.

For years, the Steelers have been drafting receivers throughout every round that almost always (with but a few exceptions) turn into very good players.

Likewise, the Bills seem to always have a well stocked cupboard of corners, safeties and, historically (though not necessarily at this moment), running backs. We also haven't been able to consistently draft or develop tight ends (with very few exceptions) for our entire 60 year history.

I don't know how to account for certain teams' ability/inability to scout certain positions more effectively or to train players at said positions. What's strange to me is that this effect sometimes seems to transcend specific front offices and coaching staffs, as well, and to persist over the course of time, regardless of who is running the show.

Perhaps one of our resident "guys who always have answers for every topic" can step in and offer some explanation?

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It's been a problem..........they haven't gotten the impact they probably hoped for from anyone they have signed or drafted.

 

Yet.

 

For all we know,  Oliver takes his game up another level next season and turns into an All Pro consideration..........maybe Phillips is re-signed and continues his ascent........Groot, Basham and Epenesa could all have much bigger impacts all at the same time.

 

Maybe one downside to all the rotation is that it might lengthen the learning curve a little bit versus accepting diminishing returns per snap in exchange for more learning reps.

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5 minutes ago, BADOLBILZ said:

 

It's been a problem..........they haven't gotten the impact they probably hoped for from anyone they have signed or drafted.

 

Yet.

 

For all we know,  Oliver takes his game up another level next season and turns into an All Pro consideration..........maybe Phillips is re-signed and continues his ascent........Groot, Basham and Epenesa could all have much bigger impacts all at the same time.

 

Maybe one downside to all the rotation is that it might lengthen the learning curve a little bit versus accepting diminishing returns per snap in exchange for more learning reps.

I know with RB's...see singletary this year.   They all seem to say that they need snaps to produce.   you need those snaps to read what the D is doing..to get a feel for the game.    Do u think the rotation is hurting the D linemen in the same fashion?.

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Regarding the DL futility, I think it's a combination of scheme and poor talent evaluation, both in FA signings and draft picks.

 

And unfortunately this team is in somewhat of a difficult spot in the offseason because of all the recent high draft picks they've made on dline because they are not going to move on from Rousseau and Basham after one season and nor should they.

 

Therefore the bigger questions revolve around what to do with a guy like Epensa who has shown very little in his first two NFL seasons, and if they should resign Phillips based on his 2nd half season surge.

 

Personally I still think this team needs to swing a big trade for a DE that can truly wreak havoc and help enable Oliver in middle. And even if you resign Philips I think you need a 3rd guy who can be a force next to Oliver.

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10 minutes ago, BuffaloBillyG said:

There were people here this time last year that wanted Phillips and Oliver gone. Both were very solid last season.

 

Sometimes it takes time. Not often a DL pick comes in and hits the ground running. Both Groot and Boogie flashed this season at times. Let's see where they are in 2-3 years. Yea, it's not fun waiting to see a guy develop however Beane's strategy has always been "Win today and win tomorrow". 

I dont want either gone...but It would be nice not to have to wait 3-4 years for your 1st round picks to develop.   Unless of course our D-line was already loaded.

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Part of it is scheme and rotation. With a heavy rotation it is hard for those guys to get into the flow of the game, I feel. Part of pass rushing is setting up the lineman across from you over multiple downs. You do certain things and then catch them off guard with another rush move. It is a chess match.

 

Keeping guys fresh is turning out to be overrated, I feel.

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2 minutes ago, FilthyBeast said:

Regarding the DL futility, I think it's a combination of scheme and poor talent evaluation, both in FA signings and draft picks.

 

And unfortunately this team is in somewhat of a difficult spot in the offseason because of all the recent high draft picks they've made on dline because they are not going to move on from Rousseau and Basham after one season and nor should they.

 

Therefore the bigger questions revolve around what to do with a guy like Epensa who has shown very little in his first two NFL seasons, and if they should resign Phillips based on his 2nd half season surge.

 

Personally I still think this team needs to swing a big trade for a DE that can truly wreak havoc and help enable Oliver in middle. And even if you resign Philips I think you need a 3rd guy who can be a force next to Oliver.

I pretty much agree with this.   I think u keep both...Epensa is still on a rookie deal and Phillips finally stepped up nicely.   I do question talent evaluation for sure.  

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2 minutes ago, Comebackkid said:

I dont want either gone...but It would be nice not to have to wait 3-4 years for your 1st round picks to develop.   Unless of course our D-line was already loaded.

Oh, I agree. I like 1st rounders to have a big impact immediately. No fun getting a new toy that takes some assembly out of the box. 

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1 minute ago, Comebackkid said:

I know with RB's...see singletary this year.   They all seem to say that they need snaps to produce.   you need those snaps to read what the D is doing..to get a feel for the game.    Do u think the rotation is hurting the D linemen in the same fashion?.

 

Collectively I think the rotation has probably helped them be more consistent and healthy late in the year.

 

Individually,  it almost has to have set back a guy like Epenesa.    AJE was a very rare 5 star recruit for Iowa but was very slow to develop initially..........but when the light came on he became a different player instantly.    Some players/people don't learn in a linear way........they don't really understand until they get a broader view.......and Epenesa seems like he might be that guy.     

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Unfortunately, we need an impactful disruptor on the DL. We have good players but not a true difference maker. Someone the O has to account for.  We seldom see anyone on the DL dominate against a inferior OL consistently.
 

 

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6 minutes ago, Comebackkid said:

I pretty much agree with this.   I think u keep both...Epensa is still on a rookie deal and Phillips finally stepped up nicely.   I do question talent evaluation for sure.  

 

I think if you get that one true stud pass rusher, by default everyone else gets better because of the attention both he and Oliver will command.

 

Same reason why the Rams went all in and went after Von Miller because Aaron Donald was essentially getting double and tripled team every down and now all of a sudden you can't do that and their pass rush was transformed midseason and been on a tear especially in the playoffs and big reason they are on the verge of a championship.

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Harrison Phillips blossomed this season and probably would have broken out in 2019 had he not gotten hurt (in the few games he played in 2019 he was looking like he did the back half of this season). Ed Oliver has also been a success story for defensive line development. I would also say that Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson were also significantly better under this regime in their limited time here so it isn't like there have been zero success stories along the D-line. 

 

Taking a look at the other D-line players who are still a work in progress and I see Groot who had a productive rookie year, Boogie who flashed his rookie year and AJ Epensa who has thus far not done much in two seasons. That's only one player who is just two years in who has done very little. I would hardly qualify that as a failure institutionally. 

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I wonder though...

 

Is there talent here that is being underutilized?

 

Our OL was bad all season, then Bates, a guy who has been here for a while, steps in and plays very well. Boettger was also doing well once he finally got a shot before getting hurt. The best guys were not playing for whatever reason. 

 

So part of me wonders if there is talent being buried on the bench. 

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42 minutes ago, Comebackkid said:

I've been thinking about this for a while and dont remember much in the way of a direct post bringing this up.   

I'll follow that statement up with saying i have a short memory at times as well.

 

The Bills it seems have always  been great at developing CB's.   when McDermott took over  we changed from man to mostly zone.   Brought in 

Trey with a high draft pick and knocked it out of the park. then have been able to develop jags to step in and play very well.

 

We jump to the D line and both in drafting and developing it seems to me we dont have the same ability.

In four years not one home run draft pick.   Ed has been playing well along with Harrison but both took a long time to develop.   Groot might be 

the top pick to hit the ground running and I still wouldnt call him a home run hit.   

 

Then we have the guys like star that were brought in to plug holes but seemed to me their contracts were pretty high for the talent and play level they provided.

 

So, whats your guys consensus on this?....   Is this a real problem?   If so how do we fix it/Improve?

 

 

 

I'm going to toss out several ideas here.

 

1.  I think the Bills share some of your concern for development, which is why they gently pushed Teerlinck out the door in a lateral move  to V. Tech, and hired Eric Washington to coach DL when Riverboat Ron got the sack in Carolina and the new regime didn't want him.  That was in 2020.

 

2. Beane, in general, seems to have a draft tendency to take for high ceiling, athletic guys who, for one or another reason (maybe the level of competition they played against), are going to need more development time.  Ed Oliver (from Houston), Harrison Phillips (from Stanford) and Greg Rousseau (from Miami, but really only 1 year of playing in college) are all examples of this.

 

I understand, in part - if you're a good team and drafting late, you need a strategy to pull in talent above your position.  One strategy is to take guys who fall in the draft because of medical or character issues.  This is what the Chiefs do.  Another strategy is to take guys who are under-valued because they haven't shown enough in college, but you scout carefully and trust your scouting and think you have the goods.  That's what Beane seems to like to do, but the down side is that it may mean that you're developing talent for another team to reap in FA. 

 

Example: we draft Harry, he takes 4 seasons to start playing at a high level for {reasons}, so we get 1 or 1.5 good seasons out of him and then he hits FA and we have to make a decision whether to keep him, or let another team hire him away?

 

Part of why Phillips took a long time to come on, of course, is all the injuries - ACL in his 2nd season 2019, just as he was starting to show something

really wasn't 100% back at the start of 2020.  He tore it at the end of September, had surgery in October, and it's generally regarded as a 9-12 month recovery.  Then of course the Bills facility closed down in spring 2020 with Covid so he had to go home and that must have hindered his recovery not to have all the technology and the hands-on from trainers.  Then he partially tore his PCL (I think) this training camp and played through it.  This injury history is a big concern.  I think he may be undersized and that makes him injury prone.

 

Oliver may be another example.  He's really come on this season.  Assuming we get another strong season from him next year, we get 2 good years out of him before his 5th year option hits.

 

3. McDermott's committment to DL rotation, seems to mean we need to have 8 or 9 solid players who are of necessity, lesser talents - instead of 2 stars and a bunch of Jags.  Now most teams do rotate DL, but it's pretty typical to have a guy like Trey Hendrickson or Chris Jones play close to 70% of the snaps instead of 50%. 

 

That's a blessing and a curse.  It means we're not going to fall apart defensively if our "star" gets injured, but it also means we're not going to be able to match teams at the highest level as well.

 

4. Star IMHO (others may differ) was brought in and given a big contract for one reason - Culture change.  McDermott was given feedback "you have to be sure the guys buy into your system" when he was fired in Philly, and I think he took it to heart.  I think the Bills had a crap culture in the DL room when McDermott arrived, with "Mr Big Puff" leading the way and Adolphus Washington (our 2016 3rd round pick) following.  Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes were good culture guys of course, as well as Zo in that hybrid LB/DE role, but McDermott only had Kyle for 1 year.   Dareus was kicked out the door mid-season in 2017 and McDermott wanted a true model for the "selfless" DT who grinds away and sets the rest of the line up for success. 

 

That's the reason Star got the Big Bucks - not because he was a literal "star" player, but because McDermott felt he epitomized the culture he wanted to build.

 

5. Overall, McDermott/Frazier/Beane seem to favor smaller, athletic linemen who can win based on "motor" over big, fat bodies who can crush you.  Again - that's a blessing and a curse.  He doesn't have guys who are smaller than Hendrickson or Chris Jones - but he also doesn't have guys who get it done like they do (see point 3)

 

 

 

 

 

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Limited snaps due to rotation will limit guys stats but keep fresher legs. The Bills could get pressure, they just couldnt get home to the QB or couldnt contain the QBs. The Bills safeties are taking away the deep plays so most underneath throws are out of the QB's hands in a couple seconds which makes it harder to get sacks. There were lots of throwaways and incomplete passes due to pressure. There arent any Bosa's or Watt's out there to be had. Closest thing would be Chandler Jones but he wont be cheap. 

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 Sean's expertise is DB's, not the front 6. He took a risk on a very young LB hoping he could turn him into Keuckly and it was a fail. Ed Oliver is a very good 3T but after him there's a big dropoff.  The FA pass rushers like Murphy, Addison & Obada are the definition of meh.  At this point I would set aside as much cap space as I can for an under 30 yr old dynamic pass rusher. Or draft one DE every year until we find our guy. Groot might be a 7-8 sack/yr guy but probably not much more? I have no faith in AJE or Boogie developing. And finally will Star be motivated next year or do we risk a 1st round Davis pick?

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1 hour ago, Comebackkid said:

I've been thinking about this for a while and dont remember much in the way of a direct post bringing this up.   

I'll follow that statement up with saying i have a short memory at times as well.

 

The Bills it seems have always  been great at developing CB's.   when McDermott took over  we changed from man to mostly zone.   Brought in 

Trey with a high draft pick and knocked it out of the park. then have been able to develop jags to step in and play very well.

 

We jump to the D line and both in drafting and developing it seems to me we dont have the same ability.

In four years not one home run draft pick.   Ed has been playing well along with Harrison but both took a long time to develop.   Groot might be 

the top pick to hit the ground running and I still wouldnt call him a home run hit.   

 

Then we have the guys like star that were brought in to plug holes but seemed to me their contracts were pretty high for the talent and play level they provided.

 

So, whats your guys consensus on this?....   Is this a real problem?   If so how do we fix it/Improve?

 

 

Let’s see Oliver has developed very well. 
 

Groot and Basham are rookies. 
 

so exactly who are we talking about?  

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7 hours ago, TheFunPolice said:

I wonder though...

 

Is there talent here that is being underutilized?

 

Our OL was bad all season, then Bates, a guy who has been here for a while, steps in and plays very well. Boettger was also doing well once he finally got a shot before getting hurt. The best guys were not playing for whatever reason. 

 

So part of me wonders if there is talent being buried on the bench. 

buried or just not utilized 100% effectively.   I dont know but i think its possible.  

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