B/R thinks Bills focus on O-line during 2023 offseason

The Buffalo Bills seem to be a franchise that is facing transition. They have several starters on defense and offense that have been key contributors to the team’s success in recent seasons. They are also around $20 million over the salary cap while trying to assess what can be done to help their squad take the next step in the wake of four consecutive offseason exits, including once in the AFC Championship game and two years in a row now in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

This upcoming offseason is a pivotal one for Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane and the front office, setting up what will also be a pivotal 2023 season for head coach Sean McDermott. With the team being a favorite to reach the Super Bowl each of the last two seasons they have shown progress yet fallen short of expectations, and improvement will need to be shown.

With that in mind, Bleacher Report is looking at the Bills as a team that has more needs than what might meet the eye. The media outlet broke down Every NFL Team’s Biggest Need to Fill in 2023 Offseason in recent weeks.

Here’s what B/R wrote about the Bills:

Buffalo Bills: Interior Offensive Line

An argument could be made for safety, as Jordan Poyer, Dean Marlow and Jaquan Johnson are set to become free agents. Re-signing Poyer, a 2022 Pro Bowler, could be particularly difficult, as the Buffalo Bills have a projected $20.5 million cap deficit.

However, this team is built around quarterback Josh Allen. And if Allen is going to be successful, Buffalo must ensure that he has adequate protection. This wasn’t the case in the postseason, as he was sacked eight times in two games and was under tremendous pressure.

The Bills could also lose guard Rodger Saffold, plus backups Bobby Hart, Greg Van Roten and Ike Boettger in free agency.

If Buffalo can create the necessary cap space, a free-agent guard like Nate Davis or Ben Powers would be a logical offseason target. However, the Bills may have to reload their interior line in the 2023 draft.

A prospect like Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence would make plenty of sense at the bottom of Round 1, and the Bills should be doing their homework on potential Day 2 picks like TCU’s Steve Avila and North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch.

While this analysis was released in the past couple of weeks by B/R, Knox did a similar analysis on the team a month ago in January in the Bills’ 2023 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NFL Playoff Loss.

He noted at the time that while the Bills have developed into a ‘must-watch’ team on both sides of the ball, there remains “a difference between being a ‘fun’ team and a championship squad”.

He also noted that “Free agency is the biggest obstacle between Buffalo and another run in 2023” with key players hitting the market. That makes identifying and prioritizing the Bills areas of greatest need and addressing them all the more important.

Where B/R is accurate is in their analysis that the offense line is a priority area that needs to bee addressed. The O-line has become an annual concern in the offseason for Buffalo since Josh Allen took over under center, both in terms of protection and also in creating open lanes fir the run game. But this year especially has come under scrutiny for its shortcomings in failing to provide Allen with the security he needs. While players like Dion Dawkins and Ryan Bates figure to stick around they’ll be on notice in terms of needing to show improvement to justify their current deals and factor into the Bills long-term plans.

Brandon Beane showed in the 2021 NFL Draft that he has no problem drafting at the same position back-to-back rounds at the top of the draft if it addresses a position of need at DE. That same year he took OT Spencer Brown in the top 100 pool during the third round to immediately start.

In 2017 when he picked Tre’Davious White in the first round to start at corner, he also added OT Dion Dawkins in the second round, and in 2018 Josh Allen as the franchise quarterback, and Tremaine Edmunds as the quarterback of the defense. During last year’s draft, he selected Kaiir Elam to fill the team’s CB need across from White.

The takeaway here, to B/R’s point, is that there is a strong possibility the Bills address the offensive line as a position of need, and that Beane could do so in the early rounds on day one or two of the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.

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Story originally appeared on Bills Wire