Bills target defense, draft A.J. Epenesa at the 54th overall pick


The wait is finally over, Bills fans. With the 54th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected defensive end A.J. Epenesa, from Iowa.

A three-year starter, the former Hawkeye piled up numbers in his successful college career, with 101 tackles, 26.5 sacks (11.5 in 2019), eight forced fumbles, and eight passes defended. He has the technique to be a productive NFL defensive end for a long time.

Epenesa was widely expected to be the second DE to come off the board by most specialists, but a less than ideal combine showing raised questions about his overall athleticism. He measured well, with good size (6’5″, 275 lbs) and long arms (34 1/2 inches), but his 5.04s 40-yard dash was concerning. His 117″ broad jump was good but the 32 1/2″ vertical, the 7.34s 3-cone and the 4.46s 20-yard shuttle times were average at best. To make things worse, he bench pressed 225 lbs just 17 times, an awful number to a player of his size.

If Epenesa’s athletic profile doesn’t scream elite pass rusher prospect, his numbers and his tape says otherwise. He’s a true football player, who can line up all around the DL and wreak havoc with his arsenal of moves. Epenesa is a technician and should be able to overcome his athletic limitations to become a productive player for a long time in the Bills’ rotation.