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Bills Today | Is this defensive lineman set to breakout in 2021?

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1. NFL analyst Kevin Clark is high on Ed Oliver

In 2020, Josh Allen had a MVP runner-up breakout third season with the Bills putting up record numbers on offense, including a franchise record point-scoring year. With another handful of third-year players coming up in 2021, which Bills third-year player could have a break out campaign this fall?

'The Ringer's' NFL writer, Kevin Clark, was posed that very question in an appearance on ‘One Bills Live’ this week. Here was his choice.

"I've always been high on Devin Singletary. I've spent some time with him. But I'm still high on Ed Oliver," said Clark. "I think athleticism wins in this league and big guys who can win, I always bet on them. I think Ed Oliver can have that breakout season to get to the top of the heap. It's hard for me at a position on the defensive line that's so focused on sack numbers, I think actual valuations get lost in the mix sometimes. But I loved him coming into the league. I love the way Buffalo develops guys, so Ed Oliver is my pick to take the next step this year."

Dawson Knox, Cody Ford, Bam Johnson and Jaquan Johnson are among some of the other third-year players for the Bills.

2. PFF tabs defensive end as battle to watch position in camp

The training camp prognostications are already underway and when it comes to a position battle there's one that is sure to be fierce in the eyes of outside observers. Pro Football Focus pointed to Buffalo's deep pool of talent at the defensive end position as the position battle to watch when the Bills report for training camp.

Battle to watch: Defensive end

I opted for the incumbents — Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison — at the two starting defensive end spots, but there will be plenty of competition at the position. A.J. Epenesa, the Bills' second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, is coming off a rotational role as a rookie in which he recorded a respectable 67.4 pass-rushing grade. He could push for more snaps in his second season.

The Bills also went all-in on the position in the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. with their first two picks. Rousseau's earliest contributions may actually come on the interior, where he used his length and get-off to win with ease against guards at Miami.

3. 'The Ringer' on Bills vote of confidence for their running backs

In assessing which NFL clubs demonstrated a vote of confidence in the veterans they already have on the roster, 'The Ringer's' Kaelen Jones put together a list of teams whose draft decisions indicated their satisfaction with players at a particular position already on their roster.

First on the list were the Bills and their decision to not only avoid taking a running back in round one, but anywhere in the draft. Heck, Buffalo didn't even sign a running back as an undrafted rookie. Here's how ‘The Ringer’ viewed that decision.

Picking toward the end of the first round, it seemed possible that Buffalo would select a game-breaking, pass-catching running back. Clemson's Travis Etienne—whomThe Ringer’s Danny Kelly described as a "big-play touchdown-maker"—best fit the archetype of a running back that Beane would take with the 30th pick, but the Jaguars snatched him five picks earlier. So Buffalo addressed its pass rush, another area of need, and drafted the University of Miami's Gregory Rousseau. Surprisingly, the Bills didn't take a running back in the next rounds, either. The team ended up choosing another defensive end (Wake Forest's Carlos Basham Jr.), followed by two offensive tackles (Northern Iowa's Spencer Brown and Miami Ohio's Tommy Doyle) with their following picks.

Buffalo appeared unenthused by the running back options available throughout the rest of the draft, addressing other positions (receiver, safety, cornerback, and offensive guard) with its remaining picks. The Bills' backfield will return Moss and Singletary, who will be joined by former Dolphins tailback Matt Breida, whose speed makes him the unit's biggest big-play threat. That trio is certainly useful, though there's still a question as to whether the group will lack home-run ability in 2021. Beane and Co. don't seem to mind.

One might argue that free agent pickup Matt Breida and his 4.38 40 time could be considered a home-run hitter.

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