A.J. Epenesa: Bills edge rusher competition will breed excellence

Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
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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.

9 responses to “A.J. Epenesa: Bills edge rusher competition will breed excellence

  1. Epenesa really got screwed his rookie season. The team asked him to play a completely different defense than he ever played, a total transformation of his body from 265-280 with power to 245 with speed…. all while not having a real off season, virtual workouts and no real contact with his teammates.

    He should be absolutely primed for a breakout season in his second year while a somewhat full offseason.

  2. He certainly flashed on plays when he was in their last year. I noticed him more on downs stopping the run than rushing the passer. We shall see…

  3. if you want to see some excellence at EDGE, just watch some chase young highlights!

  4. “This guy is a bust in the making.”

    Didn’t you say the same about Allen?

  5. Espinosa will probably be a miss, but not a bust. A lot of second rounders are misses. A bust would be Ed Oliver, who was the 9th overall pick. Ed graded out at 115th out of 126 interior lineman in 2020, Which was actually an improvement from 2019 when he was 132 out of 136.
    That would be a bust.

  6. He didn’t get “screwed”, he lost the weight voluntarily before the draft for pro day and combine to increase his athleticism. The Bills decided he needed to be heavier. I don’t think he will ever be a superstar but he will be a good starter with development.

  7. This guy can’t read the (plain as day) writing on the wall — they aren’t his competition; they’re his replacements.

  8. Touchback6……
    This guy is a bust in the making……..
    He’s not Mac Jones!!!!

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