Here's why the Buffalo Bills drafted a pass rusher, Miami's Gregory Rousseau, whose stock was falling until they stopped his slide by selecting him with the 30th pick in the first round on Thursday night:
* Production. In what was ostensibly his only season of college football, 2019, Rousseau burst upon the scene with 19.5 tackles for losses, including 15.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. His sack total was second in the nation, behind only Ohio State's Chase Young, who was drafted second overall by Washington last year and responded with 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 15 games.
* Size. Rousseau has freakish size, measuring 6 feet, 5.5 inches tall, with a wingspan of 83 inches. His arms are nearly 35 inches long, and his hands are measured at 11 inches.
* Explosion. Rousseau beats opponents off the ball and plays with a hot motor.
General manager Brandon Beane is not as concerned about the reasons -- concerns about his weight and conditioning, his change-of-direction ability, lack of experience, his choice to opt out of 2020, an ankle injury that wiped out almost all of his freshman season -- for Rousseau's tumble down the board.
He is only concerned about helping coach Sean McDermott and his staff put together a better pass rush in 2021 than they had in 2020. He feels he did that with the addition of Rousseau.
"Any time you can affect the quarterback, and you saw two teams in our division take new quarterbacks, we definitely wanted to add there at the right time, and we're really excited about Greg," Beane said in a Zoom teleconference Thursday evening.
The more research they did on Rousseau, the more they came to like his character. This especially came to light when they attempted to understand why he opted out.
"Everybody's got reasons," Beane said, "and it's hard to start say which ones you agree with or don't agree with. I mean, in Greg's case his mother's a COVID Nurse on the front lines, and he's a great kid, great family, well-raised. This was a thoughtful process, a tough decision. When we talked to him on Zoom about it, he stayed in touch with his teammates. ... He was removed, but he was still hanging in there. He missed it and he didn't want to do it, but that was a decision he decided to make, and we understood it.
"Anybody that did opt out that was on our board, we definitely tried to find out what their reasoning was, just so we understood. And again, it's hard. COVID affected so many people in so many different ways. You'd lose a lot of guys on your board if you just ruled them all out."
What's more, they believe he has the mental makeup to succeed.
"He's a Grade-A young man, very mature for his age," Beane said. "He has the intangibles that we look for, a guy that's going to work. Very competitive, wasn't looking for a year off. ... He's not going to think he's done anything. I think he knows he's still a young player and still has some rawness to his game.
"But we like who he is and we think he's a guy that in time will reach his potential."