Now that the Buffalo Bills have fully committed to the 4-3 defense – after two years stuck somewhere in between schemes – mock drafts are popping up all over the internet with the Bills linked to a defensive end.
The most popular choice seems to be Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, who played a hybrid linebacker/end role for the Crimson Tide.
While I certainly understand the logic behind the Upshaw/Bills connection, I don’t think he’s a great fit in Buffalo.
As much as I like Upshaw, he shouldn’t be in the top 10 of any draft board belonging to a team which runs the 4-3 defense. He can be an effective pass rusher in that system, but he struggles against the run. He simply lacks the strength to consistently shed blocks, especially when he’s lined up at the point of attack.
That’s not to say he can’t start at defensive end at the next level, but the Bills could get much better value at No. 10. As a defensive end, Upshaw compares favorably to a guy like Jabaal Sheard. He a solid pass rusher, and holds his own in the run game, but not someone you want to build your defensive line around.
If the Bills are committed to improving their defensive line in this draft, their best strategy may be to trade down. This isn’t a great class of ends at the top, but there are up to seven prospects who could warrant mid-to-late 1st round picks. The Bills could potentially slide back a few slots and still land a guy like Nick Perry or Melvin Ingram, both of whom fit into the 4-3 scheme better than Upshaw.