Most positions on the Bills offense are pretty set. We know EJ Manuel is the QB, CJ Spiller is our tailback and Sammy Watkins is the #1 receiver. However, the offensive line competition this camp should be pretty interesting.
First let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. Eric Wood is our Center and is quickly becoming the best in the AFC and one of the best in the NFL. Left Tackle is Cordy Glenn and the same thing can be said about him. Personally, I do not think he (Glenn) gets enough attention as one of the very best young players on this roster. The only thing the will keep these two out of the line-up are injuries.
Everything else in my view is up for grabs, and the competition to see who rounds out the starting five will be fierce. If I were Erik Pears and Doug Legursky I would be worried about making this squad. First, Pears makes way too much money ($2.75 mil) for a back-up (and I believe that is what he will be at best) and Legursky is injury prone and a tad undersized for today’s NFL.
The same might be said for Kraig Urbik as the Bills went out and signed free agent St. Louis guard Chris Williams to a tidy $13.5 million deal. And then used a second-round pick on Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. If I were in Vegas I would bet that both will be in the starting lineup for the Bills in their Week 1 game at Chicago. Also head coach Doug Marrone (a former offensive lineman) likes converted tackle Chris Hairston and expect rookie Cyril Richardson to get a look as well.
Here is something else I like – Buffalo’s tackles are massive; Glenn is 6’6″ and 345 pounds, and rookie Kouandjio’s tale of the tape is 6’7″, 322-pounds. And let’s just cut to the chase right now, Kouandjio gives the Bills far more upside at right tackle than overpaid incumbent Erik Pears, he is bigger, faster, stronger, more nimble on his feet and has a lot more power at any point of attack. As a rookie he’ll struggle a little in pass protection (as most rookies do) but, not enough to keep him out of the lineup.
So my top five (despite what I said about Urbik) are: LT Cordy Glenn, LG Chris Williams , C Eric Wood RG Kraig Urbik, RT Cyrus Kouandjio. In my view that’s one of the better offensive lines the Bills have fielded in about a decade.
Now for the reserves. Richardson and Hairston make the team. I also think that 7th round pick Seantreal Henderson does enough in camp to warrant a roster spot. And that leaves J.J. Unga, Antoine McClain and Mark Asper to fight it out for the last roster spot (or two).
The Bills want to run the ball and this is a line that is uniquely equipped to do that as they are one of the biggest in the NFL. This is a group that could struggle in pass protection but this group is (at least on paper), more athletic and more powerful.
For the passing game it could get interesting – The Bills do have more skill as a pass-blocking line now than they did last year. Plus they have more weapons (Watkins) and the QB is a year older (and hopefully) wiser and will know where to go with the ball quicker and more precisely. Hopefully, that compensates (enough) for the inadequacies this line is certainly going to have (at times) in pass protection.
However, overall, this line is an upgrade!