There’s been a lot of talk throughout the offseason regarding how the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line situation will shake out.
Some spots, such as Dion Dawkins at left tackle, Mitch Morse at center, and presumably Spencer Brown at right tackle are set in stone (though an offseason procedure has forced Brown to miss mini-camp and OTAs). Despite the moves the Bills made in the offseason, general manager Brandon Beane seems to feel that there is still competition at the guard spots. The competition, and the offensive line as a whole, will get a good boost from new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
One of Kromer’s former players in Los Angeles with the Rams is Rodger Saffold, who signed a one-year deal with Buffalo in the offseason. He’s expected to be in the starting lineup when he heals from cracked ribs he suffered during a car accident earlier in the summer. In addition, after the Bills matched Ryan Bates’s restricted free agent offer from the Chicago Bears, he is expected to take full control of a starting OL spot. The Bills also brought in-depth players such as Greg Van Roten and David Quessenberry, and chose not to release second-round disappointment Cody Ford, allowing all of them to compete for different spots on the offensive line.
After practice today, Beane spoke about the potential competition across the offensive line.
“Yeah I mean, I’m looking forward to the pads,” Beane told reporters during his press conference. “There’s only so much you can evaluate with linemen before you can actually play physical football. I do think there’s going to be some decisions, and some of it will be based on versatility, you know, how many spots can you help us play? Especially if you’re not a starter.”
“You saw us match Ryan Bates’s offer, Ryan ultimately can play all five spots if you need him to, so that will be weighed in as well with each of these guys if we keep eight, nine, if we keep ten, whatever the number it is we keep, those guys need to be able to play multiple spots.”
When asked what position group he was looking forward to watching throughout training camp, Beane brought it back to the trenches.
“I think both lines, watching these guys go against each other in 1 on 1’s, 9 on 7’s, all these drills, that’s what I’m excited about. In spring you see the skills (players) you don’t get to see the linemen go at it, so that’s where I’ll be.”
Beane has made it clear in the last two off-seasons that offensive and defensive line play are priorities for this team. The Bills spent a lot of money in 2020 bringing in a lot of defensive linemen, and have spent three high draft picks in the last few drafts in an effort to improve the defensive line. The addition of veteran superstar Von Miller was also a clear attempt at finding that “final piece” on the defensive line.
Bringing in Aaron Kromer, Rodger Saffold, and retaining Ryan Bates, while also bringing in a number of depth players in 2022 signals that the offensive line is a place to have a lot of competition on this team. While some of the moves on both sides of the line have had varying degrees of success, Beane is still clearly looking for more stability and standouts at certain positions so the Bills feel comfortable not only down the stretch of the regular season, but as they make their run at a Super Bowl in 2022.