The Bills offensive line was a unit that took their game to another level under Greg Roman. The group paved the way for the number one rushing attack in the NFL. The left side of Glenn, Incognito and Wood were quite consistent from game one. As a Bills fan I wish I could say the same about the right side. Right guard John Miller struggled tremendously and he was in and out of the lineup. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson showed signs of progression but didn’t finish the season due to illness. According to sources he will be ready for 2016, but the Bills must figure out if he or reserve tackle Jordan Mills are long term answers at the position.
A player in the 2016 draft that could be brought in and who could start from day one is Taylor Decker (6’7″, 315 pounds) from Ohio State. One of Decker’s biggest assets is his leadership. He’s a leader in the locker room and on the field. A three year starter who contemplated entering the draft in 2015, but decided to go back to help the team win a championship. He would fit in perfectly with the current unit and the City of Buffalo because he is a blue collar guy. Taylor played in 96% of the snaps for Ohio State, only allowed one sack, two QB hurries, two QB knockdowns and 20 run disruptions.
When I study the film and compare it to the stats I think he would fit the Bills’ run scheme. Charles Mcdonald wrote an article studying eight of the top offensive lineman in this draft. Tunsil, Stanley, Decker and Conklin were the tackles studied. Mcdonald took a sample of four games for each player and charted them to see the style of play that they bring.
Decker led all of the lineman in pull blocks, something Roman asks his tackles to do quite frequently in his complex run game. In four games he pulled eight times and had a 100% success rate. The next closest lineman was Conklin with four, Tunsil and Stanley each had zero pulls.
Urban Meyer’s run game is pretty complex for a college run game. Yes, they have athletes at the skilled positions but the offense is centered upon their run game. They run a lot of pin and pull schemes, traps and whams. Look at Decker skip pull to pick off the inside linebacker.
On this play the Buckeyes run a counter and Decker leads and eliminates the force defender.
Decker does a phenomenal job when pulling. He finds his target and engages. But when asked to move to the second level and engage a linebacker he does struggle at times. Of the four lineman studied by Mcdonald, Decker made it to the second level the least amount of times with 18. He had the second worst success rate at the second level with 78%. Take a look at how he struggles targeting and locking on at the second level.
He moves to the second level and engages, but the defender is just too active for Decker. He struggles because he doesn’t have the quickest feet.
He has issues getting in position at the second level because linebackers are quicker to the spot than him.
Of the tackles studied by Mcdonald, Taylor had the most seal blocks with 26 and a success rate of 92.5%. Tunsil was second with 20 (100% success rate), Stanley also had 20 (90%) and Conklin with 19 (94%).
The Buckeyes love to run the pin and pull and to do so the edge must be sealed. Something that the Bills LOVE to run. The pin is usually executed by the tackles and tight ends.
Down blocks are typical in gap schemes, the Bills and Buckeyes run a lot of those kind of plays. The Buckeyes aren’t afraid to run against a bear defense. Their run scheme can overcome it, sound familiar?
The tackle does struggle in pass protection. This is the area that he needs to improve the most. Of the four tackles in Mcdonald’s study, Decker’s pass protection success was third, but not by much.Tunsil led with a 97.8% success rate, Stanley with 92.6%, Decker with 94.2%, and Conklin was last with 92.7%.
Don’t get me wrong, Decker has some great technique in his pass pro. Specifically his hand placement, its impressive. His hands are always in the proper position. Take a look:
Decker easily gets his hands inside, has a steady base, even resets as the rusher tries to counter rush. He shifts his weight naturally for a big guy.
Taylor has a smooth kick-slide and its consistent. Every pass rep looks the same.
He communicates well with his adjacent lineman. The Hokies try running a game, Decker isn’t having it. The defensive lineman feels the punch delivered by Decker.
Early in the draft season many scouts had Decker falling to the Bills at 19 overall. There were questions surrounding the health and play of Henderson at the end of 2015. I understand the health concerns and it sounds like he is back on track to play in 2016. But as far as his play, it wasn’t anything special in fact it was average. He didn’t grade positively overall, or in the run game or the pass game according to Pro Football Focus. Henderson only gave up two sacks, four QB hits and 13 QB hurries so a total of 19 total pressures which isn’t that bad at all. Problem is he only played in 10 games, so if you compare his pass snaps to pressures allowed, he had a pass blocking efficiency of 95%.
The reason I bring up pass protection is because that is actually the weakness of Decker. He is much more proficient at run blocking, something that Henderson didn’t do that bad. If the Bills can dominate in the run game with Miller and Henderson starting would they be smart to draft Decker early? I don’t believe so, if the Bills are going to target a tackle that player should be a proficient pass blocker. Roman’s coaching and scheme can aid players who might not be elite run blockers.
As much as I like Decker’s game, his leadership, his fit in our run scheme I don’t think the Bills should draft him early. They need to improve their 28th ranked passing game, they need to find a pass blocking tackle. One that allows the Bills to put their tight ends and backs into routes, instead of keeping them into block. I believe that although Decker is an absolute lock for the Bills’ scheme, I feel a guy like Jason Spriggs from Indiana is a better fit to improve their passing game. If they want to improve their passing game they should try to find a pass blocking tackle later in the draft.
Other draft breakdowns:
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