The Buffalo Bills offensive line went through their fair share of bumps and bruises this season. At times having to shift LG Andy Levitre to left tackle and center and going as far as having to shift Urbik to center from right guard. The line also had a lot of positives such as finding a good right tackle in Eric Pears and a nice right guard in Kraig Urbik. Also rookie Chris Hairston proved he can play left tackle at the NFL level.
Some have there fears about the left tackle position. Chris Hairston played well during his starts on the blind side when playing for injured Demetrius Bell. At times he was a bit lost out there but it is to be expected from a rookie playing the hardest position to play on the offensive line consistently while protecting against the opposing teams premier pass rusher. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or offend anyone’s football intelligence but if you look at the drafts Buddy Nix has engineered you would know that he does not draft offensive lineman high in the first round. If help is coming in for the tackle position look for it to be another 3rd-5th round pick or a bargain free agent. In a perfect world I am sure in Nix mind Bell would take a below market 1 year deal to prove he can stay healthy and let him and a improved Hairston battle it out one more training camp. Folks, the Bills really do not have a problem at left tackle. The team allowed the least sacks in the NFL this past season and run a spread offense that is primarily out of the shotgun formation. Nix stated they would like Bell back and Bell has said he wants to be back. at his age with youth on his side it would be in his best interests to take a 1 year deal and prove he can stay healthy. Also the team believes they have a player in Hairston and are going to give him every chance to be the starting left tackle. Insiders and Mock drafters alike can preach tackle at #10 for Buffalo in April but I firmly believe its not going to happen nor do I believe there will be a better player than they already have there at 10 by the time they pick.
When I look at our interior line I start gushing. Seriously. we are young, solid, and deep. if Levitre started at left guard all season he would be a pro bowler right now (its not his fault he had to move around so much). He is one of the best interior linemen in the game and many coaches and media personalities feel that way. Eric Wood is a rising star as well. He too was on his way to the pro bowl before his injury. When Wood is on the field he is a force and a very good center, he has to find a way to stay healthy though. The future is bright for him with this team. Kraig Urbik was a really nice find for Buddy Nix and his front office. The guy was an above average center in college and was buried on a team that had its offensive line set in Pittsburgh. The Bills where fortunate to get him for pennies and he has performed well. Even when he was asked to move from right guard to center he filled in admirably and proved he can play the pivot when needed. Those 3 are likely to be together for years to come. Chad Rinehart was another nice find for the Bills as well. he was a 3rd round pick that did not pan out in Washington and proved to be very valuable for Buffalo. He is a restricted FA and will most likely be back with the club again next season.
Right tackle was a delightful surprise this past season for the Bills. Not only did Eric Pears fill the job but he filled it at an above average level. Also he signed on the dotted line and assured Buffalo has a nice player on the right side for the foreseeable future with his new 3 year deal. I have already shown my affection for the Pears in a previous article I wrote about his worth to the team. This man is a beast and wants to be in Buffalo. This team needs more guys with Eric Pears mentality.
At worst the Bills return the same group that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL next season. I know some people are not going to like this but I think the Bills need their attention on the pass rush and a premier receiver more than a blind side protector this off season. If the team can snag another tackle prospect in the middle rounds of the draft I am all for it but as far as the 10th pick in the draft or a high dollar left tackle free agent I really feel the funds could be allocated better at other positions. It is nice going into a off season without the offensive line being the top priority in Buffalo for the first time in years.