By Paul Wanecski
We all know Rex Ryan is a defensive guy. We all know the Buffalo Bills have the most feared front 4 in the league. What we don’t know is how long Ryan and company at One Bills Drive will be able to keep them all together. When looking back across the Jets draft history while Ryan was the head coach, his track record of drafting effective starters across the defensive line is compelling enough to think that he may start to reinvent this front four gradually.
Now Ryan didn’t restructure the defensive line his first season, but that may have been due to the team having selected Vernon Gholston the year previous to Ryan’s arrival. While the recent history of the Jets reflects a very defense-heavy draft, they have never truly had to overhaul the front line, instead making gradual changes. Here is the draft breakdown:
2009- None selected, they had only 3 picks the entire draft
2010- None selected, they had only 4 picks the entire draft
2011- Muhammad Wilkerson – 30th overall, Kendrick Ellis – 94th overall
2012- Quinton Coples- 16th overall
2013- Sheldon Richardson- 13thoverall
In the 6 seasons that Ryan was head coach, the Jets selected three 1st round defensive linemen (4 in total within the first 100 selections when you include Kendrick Ellis who was selected 94th). While the Bills do not have a first round selection this year, they may have their eye on several defensive tackles to handcuff the possible loss of Marcell Dareus, who is set to hit free agency in 2016. The notion of the Bills being unable to resign Dareus is a nightmare to fans, but, the team would retain the right to franchise tag him. The problem is that they may not have the salary cap room to do so.
The reality is the “Cold Front” is expensive. The Bills could restock talent on the back end in a year that they do not need to address any starting position. Drafting a player in the mold of Carl Davis (DT- Iowa) would be a logical choice - he is a player who could be a consistent force. While most scouts do not see him as a threat to get to the quarterback, with the line that the Bills are starting, it is hard to imagine that any player wouldn’t have an immediate impact.
This isn’t a prediction that the Bills could draft Carl Davis with the 50th selection. Just know that with Ryan’s history as head coach, he has selected a defensive player within the first 50 selections 60% of the time. Who were the offensive players? The list includes Mark Sanchez, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith and Jace Amaro. Perhaps it’s best that they draft a defensive player.