BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Bills have loaded up this off-season and have showcased a win-now mode that hasn't been seen in well over a decade. But there's more to be done to set Buffalo up for long-term success and it starts with some youth on the edge.
Between Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and former Panther Mario Addison, Murphy is the youngest of the bunch. He's 29. The Bills desperately need a young edge rusher who can work into the rotation from day one and become a building block on the defensive line for the future.
Without trading up, Alabama DE Terrell Lewis could fall right into Buffalo's lap. He didn't always pop out on a star-studded Crimson Tide defense, but the redshirt junior piled up six sacks and a fumble recovery to go with 31 tackles in 2019.
Lewis measured in at 6'5" and 262 pounds at the NFL Combine back in February. His frame is well-filled and his length will be of great use against NFL-sized tackles. He didn't participate in most drills, but showcased a 37" vertical and a 10'4" broad jump, both near the top of his position group.
The knock on Lewis, which could lead to him slipping into the second round, is his injury history. He played in just four games in 2017 before an elbow injury cut his sophomore season short. Then, in 2018, he didn't see the field at all as he recovered from surgery on his right ACL.
But that shouldn't scare Buffalo away. The Bills, especially in 2019, did a tremendous job of keeping players healthy throughout the year. Despite a limited sample size of his production, Lewis also proved he could stay healthy in 2019 and earned a second-team All-SEC nod as a result.
Lewis's versatility adds more value as well. In Nick Saban's scheme, he played mostly outside linebacker. His best work came rushing the passer, but he was involved in stunts and in pass coverage as well. If he comes to Western New York, he'll have his hand in the dirt most often. But the flexibility, especially with the rest of the talent the Bills have on defense, never hurts.
There's a place on this team for Lewis in both the short term and long term. He'll solidify the Bills' rotation on the edge and learn from three veterans in his first few years. As Hughes, Murphy, and Addison grow older, Lewis could just be coming into his prime and become a mainstay at defensive end for the Bills.