Bills: State of the Offensive Line

The Buffalo Bills want to run early and often in 2015 but it may not be possible if the team doesn't upgrade their offensive line in free agency. One established guard could make a huge difference for the team.

“Are we going to do ground and pound? Yeah, you’re darn right we are.”

These words were uttered by Rex Ryan at his introductory press conference with the Buffalo Bills. Now, with LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown on the roster, it seems that Ryan can pound the rock as often as he’d like. However, if he wants to have success, the Bills will need to make an upgrade or two in free agency. Here’s a current look at Buffalo’s offensive line and what they bring to the table.

Returning Starters

Cordy Glenn

Glenn is Buffalo’s best offensive lineman and it’s not even close. In his three seasons in Buffalo, the left tackle has played and started in 45 games. Many people would like to see Glenn kick inside to guard, but he’s done a very respective job at left tackle for three seasons. Pro Football Focus has given Glenn positive ratings in all three seasons with the team. This season, was possibly Glenn’s worst in his three year career, but he was still very reliable despite having rotating left guards next to him. With a respectable left guard, Glenn should bounce back nicely in 2015. He has shown the ability to perform well as a run and pass blocker.

Chris Williams

Williams had a history of poor play when the Bills signed him in free agency last year. Williams only played in three games last season but Bills fans saw enough from the guard during this time. He was a liability on the field and there’s no reason he should see significant time on the line in 2015. Buffalo may be better off releasing the veteran.

Eric Wood

Wood’s 2014 season was not a memorable one. He struggled throughout the season as a run and pass blocker. PFF credited Wood with allowing 16 quarterback hurries throughout the season. Could his play be slipping? It’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that Wood struggled because of the guards around him. Buffalo shuffled left guards throughout the year and Erik Pears, one of the worst guards in the NFL, started to the right of Wood. The 2015 season should paint a clear picture of where Wood is at career-wise.

Seantrel Henderson

Henderson started all 16 games at right tackle for the Bills in 2014. Was he spectacular? Not by a long-shot, but the experience is going to help Henderson going forward. The seventh round pick’s play improved late in the year, even if it wasn’t that noticeable. PFF credits Henderson with allowing six sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 28 quarterback hurries. However, over the last five weeks of the season, Henderson only allowed two sacks, two hits and eight hurries. It was a drastic improvement. There’s no telling if Henderson will start the season at right tackle in 2015 but he’ll only get better with time.

Proven Players

Richie Incognito

Incognito’s incidents off the field have been well documented. He’s had issues on the field as well, but he’s currently Buffalo’s best and most proven guard. Right now, he’s certainly penciled in as one of the team’s starters. The only thing that could hold Incognito back is the fact that he hasn’t played a meaningful snap of football since halfway through the 2013 season. At worst, he’s still an upgrade over Williams and Pears’ play from 2014.

Kraig Urbik

Urbik is a cut candidate due to his cap hit, but the Bills would be wise to keep him on board. Despite being in Doug Marrone’s doghouse throughout the season, Urbik was Buffalo’s best guard last year. Regardless of Marrone’s issues with Urbik, the former coach should have played Urbik a lot sooner. He is a consistent player that you can plug in when needed.

The Unknowns

Cyril Richardson

Richardson started four games for the Bills in 2014 and he seemed to improve as time went on, but it wasn’t at a fast enough pace. His worst outing of the season was in Week 5 against the Lions. During this game, Richardson was called for three penalties and gave up three quarterback hits. Despite playing better against the Patriots and Vikings, the team moved on from Richardson. He only saw 33 snaps after his stint as a starter. He’s still young and has plenty of room to grow. Coming into the league, many described Richardson as a road grader. Richardson seems like a good fit for Greg Roman’s offense but development will be the key.

Cyrus Kouandjio

Kouandjio had a disappointing rookie season for the Bills. He was drafted in the second round but was inactive for 15 games. While his first year didn’t pan out, Kouandjio has been working at LeCharles Bentley’s Offensive Line Performance Center for the last nine weeks. He plans on staying until it’s time for him to report to camp. It’s clear that Kouandjio is putting the work in to improve and that’s a great sign. With a new head coach and offensive coordinator, Kouandjio will get the opportunity to have a fresh start with the Bills. He has the talent to play guard or tackle so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in 2015.

Verdict: The Bills desperately need to add talent and depth to their offensive line in free agency. There are quite a few big name guards hitting the market if Buffalo wants to go that route. They may also be inclined to get a veteran to compete at right tackle with Henderson. If the Bills really want to establish their run game in 2015, something needs to be done.

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