Buffalo’s sixth round stayed true to a position and an approach with the two picks they had at their disposal in the round. After taking a dominant FCS linebacker from James Madison the Bills took another in South Dakota State LB Danny Batten.
Batten played with his hand on the ground as a defensive end for the Jackrabbits and racked up numbers that showed just how dominant he was. As a senior he had 85 tackles (17 for loss) and nine sacks coming off a 2008 season where he had similar numbers including eight sacks.
Ironically, Batten finished third in the Buck Buchanan Award voting, which is given to the Bowl Subdivision Defensive Player of the Year. The winner of the award was Buffalo’s other sixth-round pick Arthur Moats.
“He’s a tough, hard-nosed guy,” said Bills scout Rashaan Curry. “He plays the game extremely hard. He was very productive at his level. I thought the way they used him, his skill set fit what we’re going to do here.”
Though he primarily played defensive end the past two seasons for South Dakota State he has familiarity with the outside linebacker position, which is where he projects in Buffalo’s 3-4 scheme at 6’3” and 246 pounds.
“We played a 4-3 scheme, but a 3-4 scheme I am familiar with because we had some 3-4 packages,” said Batten. “Towards the end of my career they started moving dropping me into the linebacker position and its somewhere that I feel comfortable. I think it’ll be a smooth transition for me and I’m just ready to get it started.”
“He’s an outside guy,” said Curry. “He can play over the tight end. He played defensive end in college, but they did a few different things with him when they went to some of their package looks. He moved around a little bit. He’s a guy with some versatility that could swing inside and outside. So as a backup projecting forward, the more things he can do, the more valuable he is.”
Down the line the Bills no doubt see Batten as a potential stand up rusher off the edge on passing downs after watching him rack up 17 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in his last two collegiate seasons. It’s important for NFL clubs to see smaller school prospects dominate their level of competition and Batten did that.
“Absolutely,” said Curry of Batten’s dominance. “You turn the tape on of their defense and he jumps off the tape.”