To say that rookie John Miller struggled as a starter last year is probably an understatement. According to Pro Football Focus he was one of the worst guards in all facets of the game. I had high hopes for him coming into the season. I believed that he would excel in Greg Roman’s scheme. But in the end he struggled.
I do think that Miller will improve his game but that doesn’t mean the Bills shouldn’t look to upgrade or atleast bring a player in to challenge him. A player that I think fits the scheme, physical makeup and draft position that the Bills will be looking to address this area is Illinois guard Ted Karras.
Karras comes from a long list of Karras to play college and NFL football. He is just under 6’4″, 308 pounds and when you watch him play he resembles Richie Incognito. Richie is about 6’3″, 318 pounds or so and as we all know plays with a mean streak, strong hands and great punch on contact. Well those very same strengths are part of Karras’ game. The senior started 44 of 45 games in his career, and was voted as a team captain.
Karras isn’t the fleetest of foot, but he is efficient when he pulls. He is a player that likes to play in short space, often referred to as a “phone booth”. On this play he pulls from his right guard position and gets to the second level. He is a little heavy footed, but would work well in Roman’s diverse run blocking scheme.
On this play Illinois runs power and Karras kicks out the outside linebacker and the back is off to the races.
Again the Illini run power and Karras leads. He stays tight to the butt of the double team and seals the edge for the back.
Due to his lack of fluidity, quick feet and just overall athleticism scouts believe that he fits more of a power, gap scheme. Schemes that rely on winning short areas, rather then utilizing quickness. You can see why he would struggle in a zone running scheme on the following play. He has trouble targeting the defender at the second level, and is unable to engage him.
Karras plays with heavy, violent hands. On this play he washes the defensive tackle down with his punch and as the tackles execute a gap exchange he is able to engage the second defender.
He is a powerful drive blocker in the run game.
Karras may not be the most athletic lineman but he does a really good job with his hand placement. Hand placement is key to controlling defensive lineman especially in the pass game. The defender may be quicker off the snap but if the lineman is able to get his hands inside he then can anchor down. Karras has really good hand placement here. The defender tries attacking across his face, Karras gets his hands inside and stymies the rush.
Once Karras’ hands are in place he consistently is able to anchor down. On this play the defensive tackle tries bull rushing Karras. He gets his hands in place and anchors down.
Where Karras needs to improve is mirroring defenders. There are times where he struggles when he is forced to shift his weight from one side to the other.
Karras is a player that maintains his patience and gap integrity versus pass rushers. But there is no doubt that he needs work on keeping his head on a swivel. From time to time he will have lapses in recognizing twists and stunts. He is better at picking up the immediate threat versus the looping defensive end like on this play.
But I love the mean streak that he brings to the offensive line. Having two guards with that mentality really sets the tone, because the guards in the Bills’ scheme are the driving force in both the pass and run game.
I’ve always just tried to be as mean as possible, and it gets rewarded in football. So that’s why I’ve always like the sport. You can be as violent as you want and you get rewarded for doing so, which has been an awesome aspect for me.” Karras
I am a huge fan of Ted Karras and I don’t think I am far off in saying that he brings the same style of play that Richie Incognito does. Karras is a 4th or 5th round value, but I think that he gets drafted in the 4th round. I really think the Bills should draft this player. He definitely needs to add a few pounds, but he does have the strength (32 bench press reps) same as Ndamukong Suh to compete sooner than later. He possesses strong hands and power in those hands to jolt defenders then the ability to anchor down and hold his ground. Don’t be surprised to see this player come off the board with one of Buffalo’s 4th round picks.