The Bills turned their focus to one of their more pressing positional needs on day two of the NFL draft as they addressed the anchor position of their new 3-4 defense, nose tackle.
"We try not to be dictated completely by need, but obviously you want to take guys that fit and Tom (Modrak) and I had talked about it and if you're going to get big, you just about have to get big in the first three picks," said Bills GM Buddy Nix.
With quarterback prospects and offensive tackle prospects still on the board, the Bills brass saw Central Florida defensive tackle Torell Troup as an answer for their nose tackle spot. Troup was an unheralded prospect for the Golden Knights as he was often tying up two blockers as a one-technique in their 4-3 scheme to allow his fellow linemen and linebackers to make plays.
"I don't play a glamour position," said Troup. "I've been overlooked and I feel like I was overlooked this year, but for the Bills to jump up and grab me in the second round is a great feeling. It shows me that somebody is paying attention to all the hard work I put in and recognized my great work ethic. It's really exciting."
Buffalo had a wide choice of nose tackle prospects to choose from, including more heralded prospects like Alabama's Terrence Cody, Texas' Lamarr Houston and fellow Conference USA player Linval Joseph (E. Carolina). But the Bills preferred Troup to them all.
"Those guys were in a bunch and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder," said Bills Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak. "We liked Troup the best of the bunch, but that doesn't mean that the other guys weren't in the mix. It was a good group in that area."
Troup did not have a lot of contact with the Bills leading up to the draft, but is excited about where his game is headed. Ready and willing to grind every down, Troup's best asset is his ability to hold the point of attack against the run. He should serve Bills defensive coordinator George Edwards immediately at the nose on run downs.
"He is a classic nose," said Modrak. "He played a lot of snaps every game. He's strong, he can beat the double team. You know with those guys, they have to beat double teams so your linebackers have a chance. That's what he's been doing. He hustles to the ball. He's a great kid. He's one of those guys that wants to be good and plays like he wants to be good. He has good strength."
Along with Troup's skill set it was his improvement and commitment to his conditioning from his freshman to senior seasons. He went from a 350-pound player that could manage only a few snaps at a time to a 315-pound force that rarely came off the field.
"When I came into college I was 350 and I couldn't play as many plays my freshman year," said Troup. "So I talked to my coach and asked him what I needed to do to be a better player. He said he would like to see a drastic change in my weight to be able to play more plays. He needed a physical player on the field all the time. I just took it one day at a time."
"The number of snaps he'd play every game was amazing," said Modrak. "To me for a big man there's a quick rotation with most guys you watch. He plays all the time and he plays hard all the time. He put himself in a position from a stamina standpoint where he certainly learned the process down there. I still think we feel he has room to grow and get better."
Troup's best season came in his junior season when he had a career-high 52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Where Troup is still looking to improve is with his pass rush.
"I've been working on that part of my game this offseason since after the combine," Troup said. "I've been going through bag drills trying to get my hands quicker and get the muscle memory to fire faster. Hopefully when I get to this next level I'll have some great coaches that can teach me some things. I know I have some technique work to learn and I want to take in anything and everything and hopefully with experience I can become a great player overall."
The Bills see Troup as an immediate early down run stopper to supplement with Kyle Williams.
"We love Kyle Williams," said Nix. "He plays as hard as anybody we've got. We're putting one there with him that does the same thing. We think that Troup can play 30 plays a game and now we're good in the middle and the center is going to pay his dues every snap. There won't be anybody taking a play off."
Especially Troup. Hard work was something that was instilled in him by his parents who had him at a young age and sacrificed their futures to support their family.
"I often say that everything that I've done is for me, but it's also for my parents," he said. "They've worked very hard. They're good people. They didn't have the opportunities that I have. They had me at a very young age, my mom was 15 and my dad was 16. They weren't able to do things they wanted to do because they had to raise kids. So every day I get out of bed it's motivation to get up and be better than them. Even though they're great people I want to do everything in my power so I'm not going to let anything hold me back from making them proud."
Whether it's going out for two-mile runs at two in the morning or pounding out extra sets in the weight room, Troup isn't going to squander the opportunity that lies in front of him in the NFL. And Troup is well aware that the NFL will require him to redouble his efforts knowing the level of competition is going up a notch or two.
"It's going to be a big change, but I love to work and if I feel anybody is working harder than me I get mad at myself and I want to work harder," said Troup. "I just feel like with going into camp and getting some experience I'll be okay. It's going to be a long grind for me, but I'm willing to come to work every day with my hard hat."