Buffalo Bills: AJ Epenesa leading early training camp standouts

AJ Epenesa, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
AJ Epenesa, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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AJ Epenesa, Buffalo Bills
AJ Epenesa, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Buffalo Bills rookie defensive lineman AJ Epenesa leads early training camp stars.

The Buffalo Bills didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after their blockbuster trade for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

The Bills’ trade for Stefon Diggs was one of the most impactful moves any team made in the 2020 offseason, and Buffalo really upgraded an already tremendously talented roster which has been very good under the direction of head coach Sean McDermott over the last three seasons.

Buffalo has plenty of continuity heading into the 2020 NFL season, but one area that took on a bit of a makeover over the course of the last six or seven months is their defensive line. A year ago, Buffalo’s top seven on the defensive line (in no particular order) were:

  • Ed Oliver
  • Jordan Phillips
  • Trent Murphy
  • Jerry Hughes
  • Star Lotulelei
  • Shaq Lawson
  • Harrison Phillips

Heading into the 2020 season, their new top six looks like this:

  • Ed Oliver
  • Jerry Hughes
  • Trent Murphy
  • Mario Addison
  • Vernon Butler
  • AJ Epenesa
  • Quinton Jefferson

Lotulelei is still with the Bills, but he has decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without Lotulelei and a number of other key contributors on that 2019 defensive line, it’s possible that the Bills have gotten even better, which is scary for opposing teams.

One player who will be a major deciding factor for whether or not the Bills are actually better on the defensive line is the team’s top 2020 NFL Draft pick, AJ Epenesa out of Iowa.

Epenesa was once considered a lock for the top 10-15 picks of the 2020 NFL Draft but his lack of elite athleticism (at least, his Combine testing) really pushed him down boards, but teams need to remind themselves to prioritize the tape.

Epenesa is one of a number of players showing out so far at Buffalo Bills training camp. Let’s see what they’ve been up to.