by Mario Granata
With much of the talk this offseason surrounding the Buffalo Bills circling how their offensive weapons will mesh together, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the defensive unit could be, dare we say, legendary. The Bills are entering a generation with one of the most heralded defensive minds in the last 2 decades at the helm, controlling what was already a dominate defense that essentially lost only safety Da’Norris Searcy and have not resigned free agent Brandon Spikes. Hashtag Sports has taken a moment to develop their prospective starters for 2015. All we can say to opposing offenses…good luck.
DE Mario Williams
NT Kyle Williams
DT Marcell Dareus
OLB Jerry Hughes
ILB Preston Brown
ILB Nigel Bradham
OLB Manny Lawson
CB Stephon Gilmore
SS Aaron Williams
FS Corey Graham
CB Leodis McKelvin
Here are a few quick comments on the starters along with their starts and stats as Buffalo Bills only.
DE Mario Williams (48 games, 126 tackles, 38 sacks):
Williams has been a force in the NFL accumulating 91 sacks in his career, and will be someone that the opposing offenses have to account for as an edge rusher. Cap hit aside, he should once again hit double-digit sacks in 2015.
NT Kyle Williams (125 games, 457 tackles, 34.5 sacks):
Although Williams played the DT position when Mike Pettine was at the helm in 2013, where he posted double-digit sacks for the first time in his career (10.5), expect Thurman and Ryan to move him in the middle.
DT Marcell Dareus (60 games, 202 tackles, 28.5 sacks):
Dareus will be motivated since he is in a contract year, and due to the amount of money that Ndamukong Suh was paid by Miami. Look for him to approach 10+ sacks, and be a big contributor to stopping the run.
OLB Jerry Hughes (17 games, 100 tackles, 20 sacks):
Now that Hughes is signed, he can continue to be the disruptive force that the Bills acquired from Indianapolis. Posting 20 sacks (while starting on 17 of 32 games) in his two years in Buffalo, Doug Whaley probably saw some of Joey Porter in Hughes.
ILB Preson Brown (14 games, 109 tackles, 1 int):
Brown proved in his rookie season that he could be the solidifying force for a Rex Ryan scheme in the middle. A sure tackler who can move sideline to sideline, the defense will go how he goes. Ray Lewis and David Harris were the central figures of Ryan’s teams and Brown looks to take that role as well.
ILB Nigel Bradham (27 games, 204 tackles, 9 passes defensed):
A twist would be moving the Bradham to the inside. Rex Ryan has had the likes of Bart Scott and DaMario Davis as the second ILB as players who will move around to create havoc. With the experience on the outside, this will be a seamless transition for Bradham.
OLB Manny Lawson (15 games, 95 tackles, 5.5 sacks):
Lawson is somewhat a forgotten name in Buffalo, but he was the starter over Hughes when Pettine came to Buffalo. If Lawson’s combine numbers were put against any of the players in the 2015 draft, he would top the list. In college, he played on the opposite side of Mario Williams, and in 2015, he will be on the same side, and his sheer athleticism is going to be fun to watch.
CB Stephon Gilmore (39 games, 141 tackles, 32 passes defended):
Gilmore was in a contract year until his 5th year option was picked up. Now he can focus on being the shutdown corner that Rex Ryan needs in his defense. He only played 9 games under Pettine, but had 10 pass break-ups.
SS Aaron Williams (44 games, 221 tackles, 28 passes defended):
Williams will be key on the back end, not only to defend against the pass, but also to offer run support. He is not shy of sticking his nose (and any other body part) out to bring a player down. Because of his experience of playing corner in the past, he can man up on a tight end when needed.
FS Corey Graham (9 games, 84 tackles, 15 passes defended):
Coming over to a team and being elected Captain is a tremendous honor and speaks to the leadership of Graham. What Ed Reed was to the Ravens, Graham will be assigned that role for the 2015 Bills. He will be making the move over from corner to play “centerfield”, which should work out perfectly for Ryan.
CB Leodis McKelvin (55 games, 276 games, 56 passes defended):
McKelvin had his best production under Pettine (you get the theme here?) and will serve to be a nice complement to Gilmore. He will more than likely be assigned the #2 receiver and has performed well in that role.
Now, there are some role players that cannot be missed: Stephan Charles, Ty Powell, Randall Johnson, Nickell Robey and Bacarri Rambo. All could come in on various packages, but as for the starters in the base 3-4 front, here is what the Bills look like. Do you agree or disagree? If this is the starting lineup, how does that change what the Bills do in the 2015 Draft?
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