Pro Football Focus has long loved it some Jerry Hughes. The football analytics outlet evidently still does, too.
Throughout the offseason, PFF continues to release their position-by-position breakdowns. One of their latest was the edge defender spot.
Hughes landed at No. 15 overall:
It’s reasonable to expect Hughes to lose a step here soon, as he will enter next season at 33 years old, but he has shown little sign of decline of late in Buffalo. Over the past three seasons, Hughes’ 19.8% pass-rush win rate ranks fifth among qualifiers at the position. Expect Buffalo to continue to lean on him in 2021 while grooming recent draft picks such as A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. to take on larger roles down the line.
Smartly, the Bills and general manager Brandon Beane have realized in recent offseasons that their defensive line is aging. Ed Oliver, Epenesa, Rousseau and Basham give one some optimism for the long-term.
However, the Bills don’t just want that. Buffalo is hoping that this influx of youthful talent will help the defense find more pass rush in 2021, too. Last season, the Bills nearly made the Super Bowl, falling to the Chiefs in the AFC title game.
Rightly so, they want more right now because you never really know how long a window is open.
If the young prospects preform in 2022 and beyond? Great. But if they help the team reach a Super Bowl in 2021? That’s the true goal as of now.
This list by PFF actually proves that’s what the Bills want as well. Who did Buffalo try to sign this offseason? JJ Watt, who ended up with the Arizona Cardinals. He ranks right above Hughes on PFF’s list at No. 11 overall and Watt certainly wouldn’t have been a long-term investment.