Williamson's take: Defensive front seven

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
5:00
AM ET
We recently chatted with ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson, a former scout for the Cleveland Browns, about a variety of Buffalo Bills topics.

Next, we'll take a closer look at the Bills defense under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz:

Overall thoughts on scheme: "By judging what the Detroit Lions have done over the years, they're not going to blitz much. They'll do some but their linebackers aren't considered great pass-rushers. They don't have a lot invested at their linebacker positions in Detroit. They want studs up front [on the defensive line]. By that standard, I think Buffalo fits that."

Thoughts on defensive line: "I'm a real, big Kyle Williams fan. [Marcell] Dareus is a bit of an enigma to me, because I think he's a good player, but I don't know exactly what he is. And that doesn't necessarily matter. He's kind of a big, fat guy but he's not Vince Wilfork. He's not Warren Sapp. He's not a 3-4 [defensive] end. So I don't know exactly what he is. But I think he's best in a 4-3 and can be disruptive and is a quality player against the run and pass, he's just probably never lived up to the draft position he was taken [third overall in 2011]."

Defensive end fits in Schwartz's scheme: "It was Kyle Vanden Bosch for a lot of years. They went out and signed Jason Jones this year to play end, who is a 290-pound guy. Generally, in the Wide-9, they're going to look for speed off the edge. I think Mario Williams is a good player, but I'm not sure that's his game. I like how Jerry Hughes played for the Bills this year and I think he's a keeper, but I don't think he can handle every snap as a 4-3 end. They might need another [defensive] end. A 260-pound guy that runs a 4.6 [40-yard dash]."

On possible diminished role for Alan Branch: "Agreed. Short yardage, I guess he's a defensive end. On passing downs, maybe he's a defensive tackle. He's certainly not an end. I don't think he's a great Wide-9 fit. He's not Ndamukong Suh. That's for sure. I think he's more of a 3-4 end. 'Let's be stout at the point of attack, eat up as much space as possible, don't lose in the run game.'"

On Alex Carrington's role: "Yeah, maybe. Maybe he's a third or fourth [defensive] end for you. He's obviously a bigger body than Hughes. So he could do some different things there. But I still think they're an end short, especially because [Mario] Williams isn't young. You could draft an end reasonably high, an upside guy."

On needs at linebacker: "At outside linebacker. But those guys are kind of like [offensive] guards to me. You can almost find them anywhere. The Lions did that too. They had very little resources in their outside linebackers. [DeAndre] Levy was a [third-round] pick. They had a revolving door at the other spot."

On Manny Lawson: "I don't think he fits the scheme. I think he's best as a 3-4 outside linebacker and I think he's not nearly productive enough to count on. It wouldn't shock me at all if he's a cap casualty."

On Nigel Bradham: "I think he fits this new scheme better than the old scheme. I think he can run and hit well enough to be maybe an OK 4-3 outside linebacker. ... I don't think [Sam and Will] are all the distinguishable in Detroit's system. It think they're more left and right [outside linebackers], run and hit guys. I don't remember them having any 6-3, 245-pound 'Sam' guys. It's more that they're outside linebackers are interchangeable than the old school Bucs, Tampa-2."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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