In the past. the Buffalo Bills had much larger training camp battles heading into the summer. The days of the three-way quarterback rumble are long gone.
But under the surface, there are still some interesting things brewing on the depth chart in Orchard Park. Pro Football Focus highlighted one of those that many are overlooking heading into training camp.
On the defensive front, Von Miller has all the attention. Then there’s the trio of young players running with him such as Greg Rousseau.
And how about Ed Oliver? Can he take another step forward like he did in 2021?
But that one-tech spot next to Oliver in the middle could be a game changer. That’s the position battle PFF is going to watch very closely this summer in Buffalo.
PFF gave a preview of that and threw three players into the mix: DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle and Jordan Phillips.
All three signed with the Bills as free agents this offseason. Of the trio, PFF sees the first one in Jones with the most potential to grab starting snaps next to Oliver in the rotation Buffalo plays with along their defensive line.
Here’s how the football analytics outlet broke down the Bills’ defensive tackle training camp battle:
If we assume Ed Oliver has a starting spot and a healthy volume of playing time locked up because he is stylistically unique among the Bills interior linemen, there is a significant battle brewing for the playing time outside of Oliver’s snaps. Buffalo’s run defense certainly had use for an upgrade up the middle, and the team focused on big, run-stuffing interior linemen this offseason.
Settle’s overall PFF grade has improved each season of his NFL career, but on a stacked Washington defense, he was only able to acumulate 1,023 snaps in four years. Settle still has youth on his side — he is just about to turn 25 years old — and has very little wear and tear after being kept so fresh. He has a chance to be a breakout player if he can show well in training camp.
Jones has posted solid PFF grades virtually every season of his career, and his run defense performances are even better than that. That run defense performance has been heading in the wrong direction over the last couple of years, but he still has the inside track for the starting spot until somebody else can unseat him.
Phillips had Bills fans excited with a 10-sack season a couple of years ago, but those 10 sacks represented more than a third of his total pressures that season and were never a good representation of his performance, as 54.4 and 62.7 overall PFF grades since then have shown a player with a much lower ceiling than that. He’ll have his work cut out to unseat either Jones or Settle.
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