In January, defensive end A.J. Epenesa looked the part of a top-15 pick. But, after a shaky combine performance, his draft stock crashed. That worked out just fine for the Bills, who managed to land the Iowa standout in the second round.
“It was a mistake,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said (via Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN.com). “This guy is a better player than the 54th pick in the draft, but time will tell. I think the Bills did a hell of a job and I’m happy he’s there.”
For now, Epenesa will play behind bookends Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison (he may also see some extra snaps on the defensive line if Ed Oliver‘s Saturday arrest keeps him off the field in the fall). In the not-too-distant-future, the Bills see Epenesa as a starter who can make a difference on the edge and even feature as a 3-technique tackle in certain packages. Epenesa is disappointed about being left hanging on the phone last month, but he says he’ll use that as extra motivation on his NFL journey.
“I feel like I always try to play with a chip on my shoulder and give myself a little extra motivation. I was number 54; there were 53 people picked in front of me,” Epenesa said. “Yeah, it gets me fired up and I want to be able to go out there and prove to people that they shouldn’t have doubted [me].”
Here’s more from the AFC East:
- Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is out of his walking boot, according to NFL.com’s Mike Giardi (on Twitter). Sanu joined the Patriots via midseason trade with the Falcons last year, but an ankle injury in his third game with New England hampered him throughout the year. The veteran went under the knife earlier this year and now appears to be on track for a healthy return. Sanu is under contract for one more season at $6.5MM, a reasonable sum considering his ability. In theory, they could cut him, but it would be a surprise since they gave up a second-round pick for him less than a year ago.
- The Jets have serious interest in free agent cornerback Logan Ryan, but as of late last week, they have not put a formal offer on the table for him, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. Meanwhile, the rival Dolphins may be a surprise suitor for his services. For his part, Ryan says he’d be down to join Gang Green…or any NFL team besides the Titans.