This roster is built on second chances.
Why would the Buffalo Bills stop now?
Defense, defense, defense has been the theme through three rounds of the NFL Draft. And with the 80th overall pick, Buffalo sought a versatile defensive lineman. So Ohio State's Adolphus Washington, who was once arrested at a Columbus hotel after soliciting an undercover cop for oral sex, was the choice.
Washington was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl and shamed nationally even as charges were dropped.
When General Manager Doug Whaley looked at Washington in the eyes and asked him about the incident, he was convinced.
“I saw a guy who was truly remorseful, truly embarrassed,” Whaley said, “and truly hurt for not only him but how it affected his teammates and the significant people in his life.”
Because on the field, Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan believe Washington can play immediately. The 6-foot-3, 301-pounder has the frame to play the 5-technique, just outside the offensive tackle’s shoulder, and could also slide inside on passing downs to rush.
A three-year starter at Ohio State, Washington finished with 49 tackles (seven for loss) and four sacks in 2015. The year prior, he had 10.5 tackles for loss on a national champion.
“I feel like I get after the passer pretty well,” said Washington, who visited the Bills. “Hopefully I can come in and contribute to that right away. ... Coach Rex Ryan pulled me in and he told me he was probably going to take me, and he kept his word and he wanted me to come in and play right away.”
He did not, however, get to play in Ohio State's 44-28 bowl win over Notre Dame.
Per court documents, Washington answered an ad for an escort service in December that police posted on Backpage.com. Once he arrived, Washington told the officer he wanted a “short stay” at the hotel and was told that a short stay would cost him $60. Washington took cash out of his pocket, per the documents, and said he had $100.
The officer said she didn’t have change, to which Washington responded, “Well, what will $100 get me?”
On his conference call Friday, Washington said “it was a mistake, I learned from it and you learn from your mistakes.” Whaley added that Washington owned up to it all in person and “made no excuses" for the incident. It also helped that the Bills had a chance to see Washington interact with his teammates up close.
Four weeks ago, six Buckeye players visited Western New York in what turned out to be a critical piece of the Washington puzzle.
“Adolphus was one of the guys that once we spoke, a lot of people listened,” Whaley said. “He didn’t dominate the conversation but when he said something, all the guys that were with us paid attention. It showed us that he had the respect of his teammates.”
Since Ryan was hired, the Bills have taken chances on players constantly. Several, such as Richie Incognito and Ronald Darby, are now core starters. Thus, it's absolutely no surprise they'd ride this fine line again on Day 2 of the draft.
Whaley admitted that some players in this draft were completely taken off his board but that it's a “case-by-case basis."
On the field, Buffalo views Washington as a long, disruptive athlete wreaking havoc on quarterbacks in the AFC East. That weapon was lacking in 2015. As a senior in high school, Washington even averaged 23.1 points per game and 14.3 rebounds per game on his basketball team.
There will be no training wheels here. Buffalo wants Washington to play right away.
“The combination of quickness and pass-rush moves,” Whaley said. “He’s got a complement of moves which is rare for an inside rusher. So that’s the type of guy that once we go sub with his quickness, is going to give those interior linemen some trouble.
“With what we’ve done with the front seven, it should be an immediate increase in production against the pass.”
The common thread with all three picks so far? They won, a lot, in college. It sounds cliché, but Buffalo is trying to build a roster of players who are accustomed to winning, players who'll change the downtrodden, woe-is-me culture at One Bills Drive once and for all.
And one (extremely) embarrassing mistake aside, the Bills pegged Washington as such a player who can bring that change.
“They know how to win," Whaley said. "They expect to win. That’s the type of attitude and type of belief we want players coming into Buffalo that, hey, ‘Those 16 years that has nothing to do with us. I’ve come from winning programs that have won national championships. I know how to win. I know what it takes to win.
“So we want to infuse that feeling and that energy into this building.”