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Bills Today | Bills jump two spots in post-draft power rankings


1. Bills jump two spots in post-draft power rankings

Buffalo's impressive offseason has awakened the national analysts as to just how strong and deep their roster is from top to bottom. It was only enhanced over the course of draft weekend, and their proficiency in the draft has led to another jump up in the power rankings.

In a post-draft listing by Dan Hanzus, Buffalo moved up in the league rankings from eighth pre-draft, to sixth post-draft. Hanzus explained why.


Previous rank: No. 8

The Bills' draft was a productive one before it began, thanks to the four-pick package that became trade acquisition Stefon Diggs. Buffalo then addressed an area of need with second-round pick A.J. Epenesa, a powerful and versatile defensive lineman who will help mitigate the loss of Shaq Lawson. Third-round pick Zack Moss brings some fresh legs to the backfield and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm -- who took a surprise fall to the fifth round -- gives Buffalo a compelling prospect whose passing skill set greatly contrasts with starter Josh Allen. It's impossible to look at Buffalo's roster and not see it as the strongest in the AFC East -- by a substantial margin.

The next highest ranked AFC East club on the list was New England at 15th.

2. A.J. Epenesa's line coach hoped Bills would pick him

A.J. Epenesa's defensive line coach at Iowa, Kelvin Bell, is a self-admitted Bills fan. A follower of the Bills since the early 90's, Bell did his best to keep his personal feelings out of the kind of future he saw for his prized defensive end prospect in terms of potential draft destinations.

But for Bell, the fit that he thought the Buffalo Bills could be for Epenesa was too good to keep him silent.

"I didn't tell A.J. that (the Bills) were going to draft him," Bell said in an appearance on 'One Bills Live.' "It was more like I really wish that they would pick you."

When Epenesa was surprisingly still on the board, Buffalo was only too happy to take him. But the reason Bell felt so strongly about the Bills being the right fit for Epenesa was based on personal experience.

"Last summer, I was at Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher in Pittsford," Bell said. "I was invited by one of their area scouts and I know Pittsford isn't Buffalo, but just the vibe that I got from the fans that were there, and then to just see it wasn't a glitz and glam place, it wasn't a real big, showy place and I thought this is just perfect for AJ. It's perfect for our guys. You've got Ike Boettger there, Micah Hyde, Nick Easley and those are Iowa guys, and they did really well (in Buffalo). I think it's a perfect culture set for Iowa kids."

Bell believes Epenesa will excel just as much as his Iowa predecessors with the Bills.

"I'm excited for him in this situation going to Buffalo because he's going to be surrounded by, some older guys, and he's just going to continue to soak that up and continue to thrive," he said. "I'm really, really excited about the fit of that place."

3. PFF calls Epenesa one of biggest steals in draft

When the Bills saw AJ Epenesa still on the board when they were on the clock at pick 54, they were very surprised. A good number of NFL clubs were believed to have a first-round grade on the defensive end. Many draft evaluation sites felt Epenesa was a first-round talent too, which is why ProFootballFocus listed Buffalo's top pick as one of the top steals in the entire draft.

Here was their assessment.


PFF Big Board rank: 20

Epenesa isn't a freak athlete and has no burst off the line, but he does have incredible hands, power and technique that he used at Iowa to rack up 138 pressures since 2017 (sixth most). Not to mention, he's versatile and can play at any alignment. Epenesa was a first-round talent in this class.

For PFF there was a 34-slot difference from where PFF had Epenesa ranked (20) to where he was picked (54) by the Bills.

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