Bills roster in-depth: Offensive Line

August 03, 2020 - 1:35 pm

With training camp now officially open, I'm re-examining the State of the Buffalo Bills' roster, going position-by-position.

Here's an in-depth look at the offensive line:

Under contract:

  • Dion Dawkins
  • Quinton Spain
  • Jon Feliciano
  • Cody Ford
  • Mitch Morse
  • Spencer Long
  • Ty Nsekhe
  • Ryan Bates
  • Ike Boettger
  • Daryl Williams
  • Evan Boehm
  • Victor Salako
  • Trey Adams
  • Brandon Walton
  • Marquel Harrell

Dion Dawkins

Dawkins was one of the most improved players on the entire roster last season. After what many believed to be a disappointing sophomore season, he stepped his game up and took ownership of what he needed to do to become the unquestioned starter at a vital position and is entrenched there in 2020, his final year under contract.

Quinton Spain

After being released by the Tennessee Titans last offseason then signing with the Bills on a one-year deal, Spain jumped right in and started immediately at left guard, then had a very solid season, playing 99.4% of the offensive snaps and not allowing a single sack all year, according to several analytics sites. He is also extremely smart and really helped out everyone else along the line, according to all of the other guys upfront. He understands defenses and schemes really, really well. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, but the team re-signed him to a 3-year, $15 million deal, which will keep him holding down the interior left side of the line.

Jon Feliciano

Feliciano became an incredibly valuable addition to the club last season, signing as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders. He was thought to be a depth player who might have a chance to start, but turned out to be a solid starting right guard all season - starting all 16 games - and also had to play center when called upon. His toughness and position flexibility fit exactly what the Bills look for in players. But, unfortunately for him and the team, he tore his pectoral muscle while working out last week and is out indefinitely. The injury leaves a huge void along the Bills' offensive line. It also disrupts the incredible continuity the offensive line was set to have entering 2020, with all five starters returning. Now the team will look to replace him at that spot. They do have several internal options, which I broke down here.

Cody Ford

Ford is one of those internal options to replace Feliciano at right guard, if the organization wants to move him from right tackle, where he played all of his rookie season last year. In fact, Ford and Nsekhe rotated at right tackle every couple series all season until Nsekhe was injured Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins and missed the next five games. In that time, Ford manned the right tackle position by himself. The second round rookie was inconsistent, but got better as the season progressed. He had trouble with speed rushers on the outside. Head coach Sean McDermott told WGR on Monday that during training camp they'll have Ford take reps at both tackle and guard, a position he played plenty in college and many projected him to play in the NFL.

Mitch Morse

Morse signed a contract making him the highest paid center in the league last offseason. He suffered a concussion early on in training camp and missed the entire preseason, but came back in time to start every game in the regular season and playoffs. He struggled at times with big, physical interior defensive lineman, but he's a good pass-blocker, very athletic, and able to pull and get out in front of plays.

Spencer Long

Long was a very valuable reserve last year, seeing time in 14 games. Prior to joining the Bills last offseason, he spent a majority of his career at center, but also saw plenty of action as a guard, playing for both Washington and the New York Jets. With Feliciano as the main backup center last year, Long was primarily only a guard. But now he could be the starting guard and primary backup to center Mitch Morse. With Feliciano out, Long's value to the club has most likely drastically increased due to his ability to play both positions.

Ty Nsekhe

The Bills were usually a better offense when Nsekhe was on the field versus when Ford was. However, he had trouble getting through every game completely healthy, which was part of the reason for the rotation mentioned earlier in the first place to manage his workload and keep him as healthy as possible. Then he suffered his ankle injury towards the end of the season that plagued him into the playoffs. He has played both the right and left sides during his NFL career, so he can be a valuable swing tackle. He can also play guard. So he'll most likely be shuffled around and in and out during camp while the team looks for the best way to replace Feliciano.

Ryan Bates

Bates went undrafted, then signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, couldn't find a true fit on their offensive line, and was traded to the Bills just two weeks into training camp. He then battled his way onto the field, showing tremendous versatility, and ultimately made the 53-man roster and was active for half the regular season games. He can play all five positions, which is a great luxury to have. The Bills may want to put him at right guard and know he can still move around when needed, or just continue to have him as a valuable backup for every spot, especially knowing players like him will be even more valuable this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and possibly having to shuffle players more frequently.

Ike Boettger

Boettger was active for two games last year, most likely benefiting from the team wanting to keep extra offensive linemen considering the lack of depth they had in 2018 and not wanting to have that happen again. He has six games of NFL experience playing guard, all with the Bills over the last two seasons. So he knows the offensive system and can step in right away to compete for a spot.

Daryl Williams

Williams is going to stay on the right side of the line, but the question is will it be at guard or tackle? He was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2017 while starting at right tackle all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers. However, he tore his right MCL and dislocated his kneecap in 2018 and missed almost the entire season. After re-signing a one-year contract in Carolina last offseason, he played in all 16 games, but moved around to different spots on the offensive line, starting four games at left tackle, three at right guard, and five at left guard. Bills' GM Brandon Beane told the media this offseason that he believes Williams fits best playing on the right side.

Evan Boehm

The Bills signed Boehm back in April as a free agent. He has starting experience at right guard, including eight games last season for the Miami Dolphins. Prior to that, he had played for the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, who originally selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Missouri. Over his four-year NFL career, the 6-foot-3, 321-pound Boehm has played both guard and center, appearing in 55 games, starting 21 of them. He's a dark horse candidate to win the starting right guard spot now in the absence of Feliciano.

Victor Salako

Salako signed a future/reserve contract with the team immediately following the season after spending about half of last season n their practice squad. He's spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, and New York Giants, but has never appeared in an NFL game.

Trey Adams

Adams was once considered a possible first-round draft pick early-on in his collegiate career at the University of Washington. However, he suffered several injuries, including a torn ACL and back issues, between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Despite earning First-Team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 (he was also First-Team in 2016) he went undrafted and signed with the Bills. If the 6-foot-8 and 311 pounder can stay healthy, he may have a legitimate shot to make the roster.

Brandon Walton

Walton is a 6-foot-4, 311 pound undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic who projects to be a tackle in the NFL.

Marquel Harrell

Harrell is a 6-foot-3, 307 pound undrafted free agent out of Auburn who projects to be a guard in the NFL.

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