Andy Levitre's football lineage leads to Buffalo.
At Oregon State, he played with linebacker Keith Ellison, who the Bills recently re-signed. His team played against California running back Marshawn Lynch. And in high school, Levitre's team played against highly touted senior, Trent Edwards. Edwards' and Levitre's schools are 30 minutes apart.
Levitre didn't play in that game against Edwards, but he studied him from the sideline.
"You could tell in high school when he was scrambling from guys and out-running guys for first downs all day," Levitre said. "Everybody knew that this guy was going to be accomplished kid wherever he went."
When Levitre met with the Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Buffalo's offensive line coach Sean Kugler told Levitre that he was the Bills' No. 1 rated guard on their draft board. Ahead of Duke Robinson. Ahead of Herman Johnson. If Buffalo is going to draft an offensive guard, count on it being Levitre.
He walked away from this job interview beaming with confidence.
"I know they are looking for a guard," Levitre said. "And their O-Line coach said that I was the No. 1 guard they were looking at right now. So I don't know when they plan on drafting a guard, but that is a need for them so hopefully I'll be available."
Despite recently signing veteran Seth McKinney, Buffalo does not appear to be finished upgrading its leaky offensive line. The front office released overpriced Derrick Dockery and may trade Jason Peters for a bundle of picks by draft day. Peters and the Bills are miles away from reaching an agreement – Ann Coulter and Keith Olbermann are more likely to agree on something at this point. Center Geoff Hangartner will help, but the line still needs long-term answers at the interior to combat 3-4 defenses in the AFC East. A rough three-game losing streak against nose guards Vince Wilfork, Kris Jenkins and Jason Ferguson damned the Bills' hot start last season. Russ Brandon will not want to run the risk of repeating history
Signing Terrell Owens to unshackle the futile passing game helps, but the Bills must beef of their front five. Levitre is the top-rated guard on the team's board and projects as a high second-rounder. The Bills got a good look at Oklahoma's Robinson at the Sooners pro day, but apparently like Levitre more.
"As far as where they're going to pick up an offensive guard, I don't know," Levitre said. "But it's good to know that I'm liked."
In Buffalo, Levitre met with Kugler, head coach Dick Jauron and assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown. He watched film of Bills' games, studying how the team uses guards in its offense. In addition to the Bills, Levitre said he has also met with the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Many running plays that the Beavers relied on are carbon-copied in the Bills' rushing scheme, Levitre noted. Cross-over galore. The rushing games are ven diagrams of each other. Both offenses use similar protection schemes, similar acute blocking steps and similar blocking techniques, Levitre said.
"I think I'd fit right in with that system," Levitre said. "The way the coaches coach is very similar to my college coach."
While watching Marshawn Lynch in the film session, Levitre had visions of Jacquizz Rodgers darting behind him. The cutback-oriented zone plays and power plays that Lynch excels in with the Bills resemble what Levitre spearheaded with the Beavers. Granted, he was a left tackle at Oregon State but the overlying schemes sure are similar.
"I think it'd be a good transition," he said. "I'd understand what is expected of me on the field."
Levitre's short arms and stout physique prevent him from continuing at tackle in the NFL. Scouts questioned whether he'd be able to fend off pass rushers off the edge with such a limited reach. What teams do see in Levitre is someone with a savvy feel for the trenches. Levitre is very fluid and takes good angles at blocks – ideal for the Bills' massive culture shift on the offensive line. It appears Buffalo is slowly ridding itself of the sumo-sized linemen for quicker blockers that can locate and drive back defenders in the tricky 3-4.
Levitre has the ability to single-handedly carve a running lane and the acumen to digest which bodies to pick off each play – he nearly attended Stanford. Against USC's defense which stifled eight teams to a touchdown or less, Oregon State churned out 176 yards and two touchdowns. Levitre's line mauled the Trojans' vaunted legion of linebackers, three of which could all be drafted in the first round.
See highlights of Oregon State's upset win. Levitre is No. 66.
Some teams project Levitre as a center, he said. But it doesn't really matter where he lines up. He's willing to play anywhere, realizing that teams crave versatility out of its linemen these days. The need to stick anybody anywhere along the line is at a premium.
"I feel like I can play all five positions," he said. "So they can go into a game with a guy who can play every position would be valuable."
Levitre's SAT scores were just shy of the Stanford's requirement. Levitre wasn't able to join Edwards quite yet. But he may be in a week and a half. Buffalo still needs to amp up its underwhelming offensive line. Hangartner and McKinney are not saviors for the Bills' refurbished line. Investing a second-round selection in Levitre would give the line a heady weapon to wield against the division's 3-4 alignments for years to come.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.