Bills’ Most Important Players (not named Josh Allen) Entering 2023: #5 Greg Rousseau


The Buffalo Bills have invested heavily along the defensive line in recent years. They’ve used a first-round pick on Greg Rousseau, second-round picks on AJ Epenesa and Boogie Basham, and spent big in free agency on future Hall-of-Fame pass-rusher Von Miller. Most fans would agree that Epenesa and Basham have underperformed, and Miller getting hurt in Detroit last season was a huge blow, but the one constant for head coach Sean McDermott along the DL has been ‘Groot.’

Before we dive deeper into Rousseau as an individual, I want to remind everyone that the Buffalo defense has been pretty solid, as a whole. They finished second in points per game allowed at 17.9 and sixth in yards per game against 319.1. They finished fourth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average).

A third-year growth track from Groot will only help those team numbers. McDermott, now the play caller, will also need to lean on Rousseau as a leader of the EDGE room while Miller continues to recover from the ACL injury he suffered last season. This is why the Miami product earned 25 of 60 possible points from our Cover 1 Crew, with @LowBuffa ranking him the highest at No. 3.

“Without Von Miller to start the season, the Bills need the third-year DE to become a feared pass rusher – maybe not a household name like Bosa, but a name every OC has to plan around. He more than doubled his sacks and increased his pressures total by 40% over his rookie season, and his PRP (Pass Rush Performance) went from decent (44th in DEs) to outstanding (17th). The Bills need him to become a force,” @LowBuffa.

Bills’ Most Important Players (not named Josh Allen) Entering 2023: #6 Kaiir Elam

Counting Stats:

According to ESPN’s pass rush win rate, the Bills were the 11th-best team at getting after the QB in 2022. Rousseau was a huge factor in that, racking up eight sacks and 28 pressures. Those eight sacks rank him 20th among EDGEs, and the 28 hurries are 35th. He put his long arms to good use, finishing seventh in the NFL in batted balls last year with four. The majority of these numbers are an improvement over his rookie campaign and hopefully show a trend where Groot improves year over year.

“Greg Rousseau has developed into a solid player throughout his first two seasons in the NFL, grading out as one of the league’s better run defenders while also showing flashes as a pass-rusher. He’s a great piece to have when you can put him opposite a player like, say, Von Miller… but Buffalo will likely be without Von Miller for at least the first few weeks of the season. Thus, the team will be relying on Rousseau to take a step forward as a pass-rusher, and while they won’t necessarily ask him to be the unit’s primary driver (that early burden may fall on the recently signed Leonard Floyd), the Bills undoubtedly will want to see more from the former Miami Hurricane. If Rousseau can become a pass-rush generator as opposed to a pass-rush benefactor, the defensive line should be able to survive until Miller returns to the lineup,” @KyleSilagyi


The analytics back up what the box score tells us. Rousseau finished twelfth in overall defensive grade, per PFF, at 83.6. That ranking is better than TJ Watt and just behind Von Miller. He was also just outside the top 10 in pass rush – you know, the thing you want him to do most – with an 82.7. That is ahead of Miller, Watt, and many other freaks along the line. The one place we can all agree that he can improve on is run defense, but even there he was 41st out of 129 EDGE to take 20% or more of their team’s snaps. What might be the best about Rousseau’s sacks is that they were BIG sacks. What I mean by that is the other team lost significant yards from them. His 60.5 yards lost comes in 14th, per NFLSIS (Stats and Solutions).

“Already a good pass rusher. If he can find his way into the next tier of pass rushers, he will be a certified problem with two cheap years left,” – @SportsRoc2.


The Bills want to rotate their defensive line, especially EDGE where they usually dress five players. That rotation will eventually include Super Bowl winners in Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. Even when those two are healthy, I want to see Groot receiving 60% or more of the snaps. Most of which will be on the left side of the line where he played 394 snaps in 2022, only 70 snaps came on the right side. After Rousseau returned from injury in Week 12, he was consistently at or above that number. His seven games at the end of the season (five in the regular season and two in the playoff) saw the former Hurricane take at least 58% of defensive snaps with a high of 71%. A full 17-game season from Rousseau should see him earning approximately 700 snaps in 2023.

Bills’ Most Important Players (not named Josh Allen) Entering 2023: #7 Dion Dawkins


When the Bills drafted Rousseau in the first round of the 2021 draft, my instant reaction was that he was the epitome of boom or bust. So far, Groot has been booming all over opposing offenses. Whether it was counting stats or analytics, Rousseau damn near improved across the board from year one to year two. If he can keep that trend up, expectations should go from “he is a great EDGE to play opposite of Miller” to “Miller can be situational while Groot carries the attack.” Rousseau has all the abilities needed to not just be a Pro Bowl-caliber player but to wreck the opposition and earn himself All-Pro recognition. That should be where his sights are set in 2023.