Bills Must Address their Offensive Line

Buffalo has made quite the splash this offseason. They've added flashy players like LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin, but failed to upgrade their worst positional unit. There's still time, but Buffalo must address their offensive line.

The Buffalo Bills have made quite the splash in free agency. They re-signed some of their own players in Jerry Hughes, Marcus Easley and Jarius Wynn. Buffalo also brought in Jerome Felton, a fullback that is perfect for Greg Roman’s offense. The team also added an intriguing quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Taylor worked his way up to being Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore. On paper, he seems like the number three quarterback, but he’ll get a shot to win the job.

Buffalo has also made a few trades that have netted them LeSean McCoy, a No. 1 back for Roman, and Matt Cassel, a veteran quarterback who will compete for the starting job.

Despite all of the excitement, Buffalo has failed to address one of their most glaring weaknesses: the offensive line.

Sure, the Bills signed Richie Incognito in early February but he hasn’t played meaningful football since the 2013 season. Is that Buffalo’s big splash at one of their biggest positions of need? It appears that way.

RELATED LINKS:

Bills Sign Incognito to One-Year Deal

Video: Rex Ryan on the Incognito Signing

In free agency, the Bills targeted Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers. Andrew Brandt of ESPN noted that Buffalo offered Bulaga more money than the Packers, but the tackle decided to stay with Green Bay. Other top options along the offensive line like Mike Iupati, Orlando Franklin and Clint Boling weren’t pursued by the Bills. There are still tier two options available for Buffalo in free agency, but no one who is guaranteed to be successful. Buffalo is most likely hoping to see a player like Jahri Evans of the Saints get released. Trading for him is most likely out of the question due to his current deal.

Speaking for trades, Evan Mathis of the Eagles is on the trade market. Mathis, 33, is among the top guards in the NFL but there are supposedly multi-teams interested in the veteran. It’d be nice to reunite Mathis with McCoy, but Buffalo has competition.

Buffalo must do something. Currently, their offensive line consists of: Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Incognito, Chris Williams, Cyril Richardson, Kraig Urbik and Eric Wood. Glenn has been reliable at left tackle, but the rest of the line has been questionable. At guard, Incognito is the favorite to land one spot, but do you want Williams, Richardson and Urbik battling for the other spot. Williams missed a big portion of the season with a back injury but was very underwhelming on the field. Richardson is a wild card and a power blocking offense seems to suit him, but his job isn’t necessarily safe. Urbik, a reliable veteran, may not be a great fit in a power blocking offense.

Wood had a poor season in 2014 at center. Was it a case of poor guard play around him or is Wood regressing? It’s something to watch for in 2015.

Glenn has already been mentioned at left tackle but right tackle is still a question mark. Seantrel Henderson played all 16 games at right tackle, but his play was up-and-down all season long. He certainly gained quite a bit of experience in 2014 but he’s not a lock to win the job this season. Kouandjio, a second round pick, didn’t see the field in 2014. He struggled greatly but he’s put in a lot of work this offseason with LeCharles Bentley to improve. He’s certainly not someone the Bills can rely on right now, but he’s a wild card like Richardson. A power blocking scheme may help Kouandjio’s chances of making an impact this season.

RELATED LINK:

Kouandjio Working Hard to Breakout in 2015

That’s it. One reliable player and a lot of question marks. Buffalo claims that they're going to be a run-first offense in 2015, but you need guys in the trenches who can consistently open up running lanes. Right now, there's no reason to be believe that the current line can consistently win individual battles along the line.

Buffalo infused plenty of youth along the line last season in Kouandjio, Richardson and Henderson, but the results varied. Should they go back to the well and try to upgrade their line in the draft? It’s an option, especially with their first two picks, but there are no guarantees in the draft.

In round two, the Bills could draft A.J. Cann or Laken Tomlinson, the top guard options in the draft class. John Miller, a guard from Louisville, is another option. He’ll be visiting the Bills on Monday and could be available in the third round. Drafting an instant starter early in the draft isn't a sure thing though, as Kouandjio proved.

RELATED LINK:

John Miller Rising on NFL Big Boards

Buffalo can still fix their offensive line before September. Free agency is far from over, trades are always an option and sometimes rookies can contribute immediately. Youngsters like Kouandjio, Richardson and Henderson could also take big leaps in their second seasons. That said, the fact that Buffalo hasn’t addressed its most glaring weakness is worrisome.


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