After being drafted by the Bills in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Greg Rousseau’s first plays in a Bills uniform were nothing short of impressive. One of the biggest reasons the Bills drafted Rousseau with their top pick was because of his unique length. Standing at nearly 6’7”, with an 83” wingspan, Rousseau has unique tools that coaches crave. It’s those tools that led the Bills to pick him, and it’s those tools that showed up in a big way in his first preseason game.
After sitting out in the 2020 college football season, there were questions that perhaps Rousseau would be a little rusty in his first playing time since 2019. Rousseau looked anything but rusty on Friday night. Rousseau came out as a starter and made an immediate impact, using his impressive length to log a sack against Jared Goff, beating fellow rookie, and top-10 pick, Penei Sewell. While he didn’t have the same refined movement and hand skills of a seasoned veteran, it’s not what should be expected of a rookie in his first playing time in the NFL. But seeing him use his length to attack the tackle, and reach for the ball to try to create a turnover shows why that length is so unique and so important.
Rousseau’s length came into play again, during a second-down passing play in the second quarter. Rousseau came in hot with pressure on a creative defensive look the Bills threw out there, and while he didn’t get the sack, he got his long arms in the passing lane, making it a very tough throw for Tim Boyle to make. His effort was on display on a fourth-down stop, coming in from behind, crashing down and helping clean up the run in a critical situation.
On another third down, Rousseau and second-year player AJ Epenesa combined to sandwich Tim Boyle just as he got the throw off. Rousseau’s containment kept the quarterback in the pocket, and then slipped underneath the Offensive Tackle to hit Boyle with Epenesa. His flexibility and agility to dip underneath, maintain his balance with contact through the offensive tackle, and hit the Quarterback is very impressive work from the rookie.
Rousseau still has a long ways to go as a player. His pass rush plan needs to be developed, as is the case with many rookie pass rushers. For a first debut though, Rousseau showed exactly why the Bills wanted him; his length and athleticism is almost impossible to find. More so, those tools and traits will allow the Bills to move him along the defensive line and become a weapon for them to find matchups with, lining him up to go hunt the Quarterback. The Bills certainly feel like they can coach him into becoming a star, and with his first action including a tackle for loss, multiple pressures, a QB hit, and a sack, it’s certainly a good start for Rousseau in Buffalo.