The Bills used a second-round pick on A.J. Epenesa in 2020, but his rookie season didn’t do anything to stop them from addressing the position again at the top of this year’s draft.
Buffalo took Gregory Rousseau in the first round and Carlos Basham in the second round to go with Epenesa, Mario Addison, and Jerry Hughes. Addison and Hughes have long resumes of productive play, but Epenesa had 14 tackles and a sack while playing just over a quarter of the team’s defensive snaps.
That muted production and the addition of two new players at the same spot might have some looking at the writing on the wall, but Epenesa believes the competition for playing time will be a positive for him.
“Competition breeds excellence, in my opinion,” Epenesa said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “That’s the way of the business. These guys are great guys and they’ve been working hard. They’ve done some great things out on the field. Competition just pushes people to get better and that’s what it’s all about. So, we have more people to compete with and I’m just looking forward to how far they can push me to get better at the game.”
Epenesa cut weight after being drafted in hopes of being more agile than he was at Iowa, but found that dropping weight left him short on power and he’s tried to strike a better balance this offseason. He’ll need it to survive the in-house competition and position himself for a more prominent role this time around.