ESPN thinks the Buffalo Bills still might have to shore things up on their offensive line heading toward the 2022 NFL regular season.
According to the former world-wide leader, the Bills don’t have a bad offensive line… but it’s not perfect either.
ESPN NFL insider Bill Barnwell tabbed an “Achilles heel” for each team in the league. For Buffalo, it’s the guard position on the offensive line.
Here’s the breakdown:
I’ll look up front, where there are more questions than answers. Dion Dawkins is locked in at left tackle, while veteran center Mitch Morse returns after what should have been a Pro Bowl season. No issues there. Spencer Brown, a third-round pick last year, took over the right tackle job during his rookie season and forced the organization to push Daryl Williams inside before cutting Williams. Stats LLC credited Brown with just a half-sack allowed in 2021, and any further development would give Buffalo an excellent pair of tackles on the edge.
Guard, on the other hand, could be a problem. The Bills have options, but each of their choices has questions. Rodger Saffold was signed away from the Titans in free agency, but he is 34 and suffered injuries in a car crash before camp began. On the right side, they are expected to open the season with Ryan Bates, who had just one career start before taking every snap over the final five games last season. The Bears signed him to a four-year, $17 million offer sheet this offseason, and the Bills matched the deal with the plan of keeping Bates installed as the starter.
Buffalo has other options. Ike Boettger started 17 games from 2020 to 2021, although he’s beginning camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after tearing his left Achilles in December. Cody Ford, a second-round pick in 2019 and one of the rare misses for general manager Brandon Beane, can either play as the team’s swing tackle or settle in at guard. Journeyman David Quessenberry and Greg Van Roten, both of whom were starters on other rosters a year ago, will compete for playing time. Both of these guys would likely be Week 1 starters in other places if healthy. Only by Buffalo’s lofty standards would guard be considered an issue.
Rounding out the analysis is a bit of praise for the Bills at the guard position, ironically enough. However, this spot on the O-line should still be highlighted.
At least for the long term.
Bates is locked in, but the jury should still be out on him. He has a limited number of starts and similar to the way quarterback Josh Allen had to prove himself all over again in Year 2, so does Bates.
Saffold could be a positive in 2022, but even if he is, Saffold is only playing on a one-year deal–As is Quessenberry and Von Roten, while Ford enters the final year of his rookie contract after underwhelming early in his career.
As this upcoming season rolls on the Bills front office would be smart to keep their eye on the future along the offensive line.