Hall of Fame GM thinks this Bills rookie 'fits a perfect need'

Former Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian thinks the team addressed a major need in the 2024 NFL Draft with its selection of DeWayne Carter.
Sep 17, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke Blue Devils defensive tackle DeWayne Carter (90)
Sep 17, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils defensive tackle DeWayne Carter (90) / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

“Mr. Buffalo” perhaps doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Mr. Duke,” but if a Pro Football Hall of Fame executive's assessment is any indication, DeWayne Carter will have plenty of time to figure out a new nickname in Western New York.

The defensive tackle, whom the Buffalo Bills selected in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, established himself as a fan favorite throughout his four years at Duke, notching 125 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks en route to becoming the first three-time captain in the program’s history and earning the loving nickname “Mr. Duke.

He’s a definite personality fit for a Buffalo team that so heavily and demonstrably values character, and according to Bill Polian, he’ll also be a seamless fit on the field. The esteemed executive, who served as the Bills’ general manager from 1986–1992 and constructed the team that appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990–1993, praised Carter during a recent interview with WGRZ’s Vic Carucci, suggesting that the rookie will effortlessly fold into what Buffalo already does defensively.

Related: Legendary former GM praises Bills offseason strategy: 'Keep it green and growing'

“DeWayne Carter fits a perfect need,” Polian said. “There needed to be another defensive tackle in there who can rush . . . He is an upfield, go-get-’em, active defensive tackle, just the kind that they play with. A running mate for Ed Oliver. He’ll get on the field, and he’s going to play a role as a rookie.”

At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Carter is a stout defender who can both generate interior pass rush and hold his own against the run; according to Pro Football Focus, he tallied 25 total pressures and 19 run stops in the 2023 season, this after a 2022 campaign in which he notched career-highs in both pressures and run stops with 52 and 24, respectively.

He’s not only a long-term piece for the Bills, but he could, as Polian alludes to, see the field as a rookie; Buffalo generally likes to rotate its defensive linemen, and the 23-year-old currently projects as the team’s, at worst, fourth defensive tackle.

That said, it’s difficult to imagine him playing alongside Ed Oliver straight away. Oliver has established himself as a consistent interior pass-rush generator over the past few seasons, his emergence fueled, at least partially, by the presence of DaQuan Jones; with Jones inking a two-year extension with the Bills in the offseason, it’s difficult to imagine the team wanting to break that duo up as early as this year. An eventual duo of Oliver and Carter is appetizing, however.

Kyle Silagyi