Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Grading the Bills' 53: Defensive line
By Mike Rodak
Now that the Buffalo Bills have set their 53-man roster, we'll break it down, position by position:
Personnel: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alex Carrington, Alan Branch, Jay Ross, Corbin Bryant (Practice squad: Izaan Cross)
Talent: A+. Hard to top this group. The Detroit Lions (with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Jason Jones, and Ziggy Ansah) come close, but the combination of Williams, Williams and Dareus is the best in the NFL. When healthy and clicking, Mario Williams is a premier pass-rusher with excellent athleticism for his size (6-foot-6, 292 pounds). Dareus (331 pounds), Kyle Williams (301 pounds) and Branch (325 pounds) are stout across the middle. At 6-foot-5, Carrington has ideal length for the position, which has also shown up on special teams (three blocked field goals last season).
Depth: B+. The addition of Branch this offseason was significant. He started 16 games for a top-ranked Seahawks defense last season and stepped right in on Sunday, playing 33 snaps against the Patriots. Ross and Bryant are more developmental pieces who have spent much of their careers on practice squads. In today's NFL, though, depth along the defensive line has become less important as linebackers and defensive backs are used more and more.
Reliability: B. There are a few question marks here. Mario Williams has dealt with injuries since arriving in Buffalo, missing time last season because of wrist surgery and sitting out most of training camp this season due to plantar fasciitis. Kyle Williams played in only five games in 2011 due to a foot injury and had offseason Achilles surgery this year. Dareus, the third overall pick in 2011, still needs to show he can be a consistent threat for offenses.