Bills Playmakers: Why Rookie DE Gregory Rousseau is so Special

The former University of Miami star is quicker to pick things up than most, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
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While there's no denying how much skipping the 2020 season has impacted Buffalo Bills rookie first-round draft pick Gregory Rousseau, there's also no doubt in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's mind that Rousseau will be able to make up for that lost time in a hurry.

Why?

Because of what's between the 6-foot-6 defensive end's ears.

"When I watched [defensive line coach] Eric Washington talk to him about his technique, about fundamentals, I mean when [Rousseau] hears something, he's one of those guys who can put it into action like right away," Frazier said this week at OTAs. "He's able to process the information, take it to the grass and then be able to complete what you're asking him to do. And there aren't a lot of guys, even at our level, that can get that done. It takes repetition for some. Greg's not one of those guys. Once you show him or tell him what you're looking for, then he's able to go out and execute that.

"I think he has the ability to be a really good edge rusher more so because of his length and his feel for the game. He's a guy who when we watched him on tape and even now watching him in person, he just has a knack -- and there are some guys like that and they have a knack for finding their way to the quarterback and being able to slip off of blocks and just have the instincts on the field for doing it -- and I think he's one of those guys and I think his length is going to give people trouble."

Rousseau certainly gave people trouble in what amounted to his only season of college football in 2019, when 19.5 of his 54 tackles were for losses, including 15.5 sacks.

He opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns before opting into the 2021 draft, in which the Bills were ecstatic to see him still on the board when their turn came at No. 30 overall. Had Rousseau not been available, they would have traded out of that pick, as documented by the team's fascinating video feature on its 2021 draft.

As high as Rousseau's ceiling is, the Bills didn't hesitate to pull the trigger on fellow defensive end Carlos "Boogie" Basham in the second round, adding two rookies to an already crowded defensive line room that included Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa, Star Lotulelei, Ed Oliver, Vernon Butler and Efe Obada.

"I wasn't surprised by it," Rousseau said. "I feel like pass rushers, they rotate a lot and pass rushing is one of those positions where you can never have too many real god pass rushers. So I feel like it was a really solid pick, and I'm excited that he's here."

The Bills are excited to have them all for now, even if there won't be room for all in September.

They'll jump off that bridge when they come to it, according to Frazier.

"Right now you're trying to get competition," he said. "You want to get the best 11 on the field and you also want to create some quality depth as well because, you know, eventually they're going to be some injuries. So at this point, we're not concerned with the numbers. We just want to get the guys out on the field and compete and let the best man win.

"Because at the end of the day, If we have the right guys, it's going to work out to our benefit on defense. ... I think we have the right guys on the roster. Now we've just got to see how it plays out once we get pads on. This time of the year, a little tougher to evaluate, but once we get the pads on in training camp, we'll kind of know what we have."

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.