Bills upgrade pass rush by drafting Miami's Rousseau 30th

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — With Josh Allen having solidified his future at quarterback, the Buffalo Bills turned to upgrading their defence by selecting Miami edge rusher Greg Rousseau with the 30th pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

The 21-year-old is listed at 6-foot-6 and 266 pounds, and led the ACC with 15 1/2 sacks to earn conference rookie of the year honours in 2019. Rousseau, however, is considered a bit of an unknown after playing only one full season at Miami before opting out last year amid COVID-19 concerns.

Defence was considered a priority entering the draft after the Bills addressed mostly offensive needs over the past two months. Except for re-signing starting linebacker Matt Milano to a four-year contract, Buffalo used its limited salary cap on bringing back starting offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams, and adding receiver Emmanuel Sanders to offset the loss of John Brown.

General manager Brandon Beane identified upgrading Buffalo’s pass rush as a priority.

The Bills finished 15th in the NFL with 38 sacks, and tied for 20th with 143 quarterback pressures. The team also needs to get younger at the position, with its top two edge-rushers, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, both going to be 33 or older and entering the final season of their contracts.

Barring trades, the Bills have second- and third-round picks on Friday at 61st and 93rd overall.

This marks the third consecutive draft in which the Bills selected a defensive player with its first pick. Tackle Ed Oliver was selected 9th overall in 2019, followed by end A.J. Epenesa chosen 54th last year.

The Bills are coming off a breakthrough season in which they won their first AFC East title since 1995 with a 13-3 record, and made their deepest playoff run in 27 years before losing to Kansas City in the conference championship game.

Buffalo was led by Allen, who began delivering on the potential the Bills brass showed in trading up five spots in the draft order to select the raw and sometimes erratic Wyoming product with the No. 7 pick in 2018. Allen earned MVP consideration following a season in which the second-team All Pro selection set numerous franchise single-season passing and scoring records.

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John Wawrow, The Associated Press