Breaking down the 90: Buffalo Bills defensive ends (6/19/17)

Breaking down the 90: Buffalo Bills defensive ends (6/19/17)
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 19, 2017

With the entirety of the offseason program now in the rearview mirror, the Buffalo Bills will now prepare themselves for the start of training camp on July 27.

As we get closer to training camp, will take an enhanced look at the roster as it's currently constructed, and who you need to know about as we get closer to late July.

Next up in the series, a position that was once a major strength of the Bills, but now carries a lot of questions... defensive end:

The Starters
Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson
- Putting pressure on the quarterback used to be a staple of the Bills' identity, but now, all the team can do is hope. Jerry Hughes is as good of a practice player as you'll find and has a great array of moves to get to the quarterback, and to impact the game around him. The trouble is, the normal pass rusher stats haven't reflected his true impact on the game (11 sacks over the last two seasons), and he's become more visible due to his knack for penalties than anything else. He remains a solid starter, regardless of the stats -- but in a production-based business, there might be more pressure to get his numbers back up this season with a new GM and coach. Shaq Lawson is a question because he has never started before for the Bills, so they really do not know what they're going to get from the defensive end. He'll be lined up against right tackles from the way things look now, and the Bills are going to need a big first starting season out of the former first-round pick -- especially in a defense that gets the majority of their pressure on the quarterback from the front four.

Main Reserve... for now
Ryan Davis
- The Bills had no depth at defensive end to speak of heading into the offseason, and they came away with what they hope will be their main rotational defensive end. Ryan Davis signed a two-year deal with the Bills, but with a minimal dead money hit, if they walk away following this season ($50,000), he's essentially on a one-year prove-it deal. Unless one of the younger players at the position steps up this summer, Davis will me the main substitute for both Hughes and Lawson, and will be depended on to be a solid run-stuffing defensive end. Although if either one of the starters, or Davis, goes down with an injury -- the position will be completely stretched thin. And if there are two injuries at a time? It becomes an immediate weakness. Unless they get a huge effort from a young player, I'd look for the Bills to add a defensive end at some point in the summer or after the final cuts in early September.

Don't Sleep On...
Marquavius Lewis
- He's the most intriguing name of the remaining five at defensive end on the roster mainly for his versatility and because of his length. The Bills have been using Lewis on the inside and that's in addition to his listing at defensive end. Although he's a bit undersized 270 pounds, he has a clear opportunity to earn a roster spot. Not only are the Bills thin at defensive end, but there's not a clear favorite for a fifth defensive tackle, either, which means a player that can do the job of two players becomes that much more valuable. Keep your eye on this one.

Bubble Trouble
Max Valles, Eddie Yarbrough, Jake Metz, Ian Seau
- Through the spring, the two most impressive players from this group were Max Valles and Eddie Yarbrough. Valles worked with the second-team defense and beat Seantrel Henderson to the backfield more often than the offensive tackle would ever want to admit. Yarbrough flashed some ability lining up with the third-team defense. Jake Metz is a long player but didn't really stand out during the spring, and Ian Seau is a bit short-limbed for how Sean McDermott typically likes his pass rushers. At this point, Valles is probably the best bet of this foursome to make it through.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia