Highest Graded Defensive Players



If there is one thing that Bills fans are looking forward to, it’s an improved defense. The Rex Ryan defenses were everything that has been wrong on that side of the ball: undisciplined, sloppy, shoddy tackling, and assignments blown consistently. Well, besides some penalties this defense has been the brightest part of the preseason.

Free agent pickup Ryan Davis leads the defense with a +8.8 grade. Davis has battled a concussion early this season, but when he has been in there he has wreaked havoc. He’s registered two QB hits, four QB hurries, two tackles, and two stops. That kind of ability to disrupt also landed him the highest pass rush grade (+7.8) of any Bills defender.


As of right now, I don’t foresee the Bills cutting ties with Davis in hopes of gaining compensatory picks next season; he has been that effective. His effectiveness and versatility across the defensive line are assets that you can’t cut.


Already a fan favorite because of his ‘blue collar’, workman-like attitude, defensive end Eddie Yarbrough’s arrow has been pointing up since day one. Yarbrough is a great story, and he has solidified his roster spot for 2017. He is going to see considerable snaps come the regular season, as Mcdermott and Frazier love to rotate defensive linemen throughout games. Yarbrough is the 2nd-highest graded Bills defender (+7.9).

Eddie isn’t a guy that possesses top end explosiveness, bend, or even athletic ability, but what he does possess is technique. He always has a pass rush plan and counter plan, and you can see it in action on just about every play.



That ability has dominated camp and landed him as the second highest pass rush grade with a +5.9 in preseason games.


The exciting aspect about Yarbrough’s game is that he is equally as technical versus the run. He reads blocking concepts quickly, and can stack and disengage at will.



The third-highest graded defender per Pro Football Focus is defensive end Jerry Hughes (+6.1). Yeah, thats right. The top three graded players are defensive ends. Better yet, the top 5/6 highest graded defenders are defensive ends. Hughes has quietly dominated the preseason, putting up two sacks, two QB hurries, four total tackles, and five stops. You can tell he is much more confident in this even front than he ever was under Rex Ryan. He doesn’t have to worry about dropping into coverage as often and is afforded the ability to attack the QB without having to worry about contain responsibilities. Through three games he also lands as the third-highest graded pass rusher.


Offenses have been attempting to attack the Bills’ 4-3 over front with double tight formations. This creates an extra gap, forcing Hughes to bump down and putting Humber, the undersized Will LB, on the line of scrimmage. However, Jerry is so quick off the snap that he creates disruption and chaos for offensive linemen and makes his teammates’ jobs easier.



His key and diagnose skills are so much better in this scheme, and it allows him to trust his abilities. Look at how quickly he diagnoses the gap run and dips under the pulling lineman looking to kick him out. Jerry displayed such an amazing blend of mental and physical speed on this play.


I know it’s preseason, but even with the vanilla defensive concepts that we have witnessed, Bills fans shouldn’t expect much of a drop off come week 1. The front office and staff have brought in a scheme that allows its personnel to play fast, and I don’t find it surprising that 34-year-old veterans all the way down to undrafted free agents have been able to make plays. I can’t wait until they actually start scheming and game-planning!


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