The Buffalo Bills will be starting rookie Nigel Bradham over Arthur Moats at strong-side linebacker in his first career NFL start. Bradham was subbed in for Moats last week and tied with George Wilson for the team lead with six tackles, and he looked active in the game and played well against the run. Moats started off the season strong with some big run-stopping performances, but he isn’t as good of a fit as a 4-3 OLB- his more natural position is at 3-4 OLB or rush end.
With the fourth-round rookie from Florida State notching the starting gig, it looks like Moats will be playing at DE. Mark Anderson is out indefinitely with a severe knee injury, so he will be getting some significant pass rushing opportunities as well. I also like his ability to stop the run, so Moats should still play an important role for the Bills.
The Cardinals offensive line is the worst in the league, with the two tackles and right guard Adam Snyder being the worst of them. Left guard Daryn Colledge can’t play pass protection at all, but he is a hard-nosed mauler as a run blocker. Center Lyle Sendlein is the team’s best and most consistent offensive lineman, and the captain is their only “plus” player in pass pro. Moats was above-average as a pass rusher with six QB hits in each of the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, Bradham is a bit of an unknown and will likely be starting in non-nickel situations. Again, he played well last week against the 49ers and quickly accelerate the status of “No. 4 LB” in the offseason. He’s a hard worker who showed his value on special teams, and Bradham has terrific speed. He was Florida State’s leader on defense in his college days, and his rapid ascension in the Bills led to first team reps throughout the week and a chance to start tomorrow.
It’s going to be interesting to watch and see how the instinctive Bradham does given this opportunity to start at the SAM, and his improvement in run defense has definitely been one of the main reasons for the additional playing time. I want to see how the Bills utilize Moats in this game as well, because I think he is a solid pass rusher and an underrated run-stopper.
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