The Buffalo Bills’ improbable run to a 13-3 record and the No. 2 seed in the AFC last season was fueled by the digitally-mapped arm of Josh Allen and a Brian Daboll offense that fostered Allen’s growth as a passer. That stood in contrast to what many believed would drive success entering 2020 — a defense that had developed into one of the NFL’s best under defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Buffalo’s defense ranked just 18th in expected points allowed per play in 2020 after recording top-five finishes in 2018 (second) and 2019 (fourth). It was their worst rank since 2012.
As a result, it wasn’t a surprise to see general manager Brandon Beane address the defense early in the 2021 NFL Draft, even if mock drafts across the internet were pushing running backs to the Bills at the back end of Round 1.
The decision to spend both of their top two picks in the draft on the same position — defensive end — did catch most by surprise, though. Buffalo selected Miami’s Gregory Rousseau with their first-round pick before turning around and drafting Boogie Basham out of Wake Forest with their next selection in Round 2.
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“We do believe in being stout up front on both sides of the ball, that’s something that you’re going to see here as long as Sean [McDermott] and I are running this thing,” Beane remarked following the draft. “We’re in sync on that. The game evolves and changes, whatever you want to do, there’s more passing now than there was 10 years ago and obviously 20 years ago, but the game is still won and lost up front, so we want to be strong there.”