When it comes to making the offensive and defensive lines top priority, coaches and GM’s often talk the talk, but rarely walk the walk. We often see personnel managers focus on the sexy positions of quarterback, wide receiver, running back, etc. and do patch work when it comes to the big uglies. Yes, franchise quarterbacks are difficult to come by, so to pass over a legitimate franchise caliber player at that position would be detrimental. On the flip side, imagine investing in a brand-new Bugatti La Voiture Noire, (Quarterback Josh Allen) and not adequately insuring it (2018 Bills O-Line).
Undoubtedly, Brandon Beane made it the team’s top priority to enhance the offensive line, and rightfully so. Building through the trenches is key to success in the NFL. In fact, the 2018 Bills had one of the lowest combined salaries among offensive lines in the league. Fun Fact… Newly-signed Mitch Morse will be earning more than the combined total of last year’s starting five.
Offseason Offensive Line Additions
C-Mitch Morse: 4 yr $44.5 mill
The cream of the free agent crop, Morse is known for his top-tier pass blocking ability and overall leadership. The perfect compliment to a young quarterback.
T-Ty Nsekhe: 2 yr $14.5 mill
Nsekhe has the versatility to play any guard or tackle spot, though is currently penciled in as the starting right tackle. The long winding career road for Nsekhe hits its apex with a big money contract in Buffalo.
T-LaAdrian Waddle: 1 yr $2 mill
His wife, @MrsWaddle68 on Twitter has garnered quite the following in Buffalo. Hopefully her better half will do the same and claim a spot on the Bills line. LaAdrian has bounced around the league, most recently with the Patriots, but he is versatile and big. A combination Beane has shown to love.
G-Spencer Long: 1 yr $2.65 mill with two team options
Long is mean, big, and nasty. Oh, and versatile. Is anyone catching on to the theme here? He can play either guard position and can be a solid fill-in at center as well.
G-Jon Feliciano: 2 yr $8.3 mill
Stop me if you have heard this one before… Feliciano is big, mean, and nasty. He has started only 8 games in 3 seasons, but was brought in to battle for one of the starting guard spots. At the very least he will be a solid reserve guard.
G-Quinton Spain: 1 Year $2.05 mill
Quite the bargain at just over $2 mill for a guard of Spain’s caliber. In four seasons he started 48 games, including 2 in the playoffs. You can all but pencil him for starting at one of the guard positions.
Returners: T-Dion Dawkins, G-Wyatt Teller, T-Conor McDermott, G-Jeremiah Sirles, G-Vlad Ducasse, G-Ike Boettger, C-Russell Bodine
My assumption is that the Bills will keep 9 offensive linemen and given the roster as it currently stands the starting five would likely be:
LT- Dion Dawkins
LG- Quinton Spain
C- Mitch Morse
RG- Jon Feliciano
RT- Ty Nsekhe
Reserves- Wyatt Teller, Spencer Long, LaAdrian Waddle, Jeremiah Sirles
Sirles only sticks around if they Bills do not draft a lineman in the first 4 rounds. If they do, Sirles is likely a goner. Boettger may find himself on the practice squad.
The two words that describe Beane’s philosophy when it comes to the o-line, would be versatility and nastiness. Nsekhe brings both of those qualities, as does Long. As I stated previously, Feliciano brings with him a mean streak as well. Think Richie Incognito, minus the crazy. Depending on the draft and how Dion Dawkins performs in camp and preseason, you may see Nsekhe getting time on Josh Allen’s left side. I won’t pretend to be an offensive line guru, but my preference would be to have Dawkins transition to guard as I am not a fan of his at left tackle. His play last year was uninspiring at times.
Depending on how the draft falls, the Bills could potentially have three highly-touted o-line prospects at their #9 spot.
T-Jawaan Taylor, University of Florida
T-Jonah Williams, University of Alabama
T- Andre Dillard, Washington State
As is always the case, each prospect has their strengths and weaknesses. Dillard is deemed the best pass blocker in the draft, which would certainly be advantageous for second-year quarterback, Josh Allen. Jonah Williams played left tackle at Alabama, but some scouts view him as only capable of playing on the right side in the NFL. He has the nastiness that Beane likes, and played for Bills offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, at Alabama, so familiarity is there. Taylor has played both tackle positions, possessing the versatility Beane prefers.
Of the three tackles being considered, my preference, in order, would be; Dillard, Williams, Taylor. The Bills may even be able to trade back a few spots, acquire additional draft capital, and still acquire one of the three players. Dawkins had his struggles last season and Nsekhe is simply a short-term starter due to his age, making it imperative that Buffalo uses an early round pick on a tackle. A quality guard could also be added in the draft. Dalton Risner would be a dream scenario for the Bills in round 2.
Ultimately, the Bills need to shore up the offensive line for not only the intermediate future, but the long-term as well. With a dynamic franchise quarterback now on the roster, the number one priority must be protecting him. A quality offensive-line will make a decent QB good, a good QB great, and a great QB hall of fame caliber. Expect at least one o-line pick in the first two rounds next week. Who will be that player(s)? Only time will tell. Go Bills!