Buffalo Bills top-5 best moves of the 2019 off-season

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Buffalo Bills
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No. 2 Trading up to draft Cody Ford

The Bills made a lot of moves in free agency to bolster their offensive line, including one featured on this list. But the addition of Cody Ford may be their best. In Ford, the Bills are getting a pro-ready prospect most estimated to go in first-round; instead, they secured his services by trading up to draft him in the second round.

To draft Ford, general manager Brandon Beane had to send Oakland pick No. 40 and 158 for No. 38. Though he gave up a fifth, most should be willing to bet that Beane would do it again. He needed to add more pieces to the line that could offer Josh Allen protection now. As a 6-foot-4, 329-pound lineman with a well-respected game, Ford is just that.

Entering 2018, Ford was beyond the draft’s radar. Up to that point, he hadn’t been a full-time starter for a consistently deep Oklahoma offensive line. Before the season began, he earned the starting job at right tackle and proceeded to see his draft stock skyrocket. Per Pro Football Focus, Ford allowed just one sack, zero QB hits and six hurries on 440 pass-block snaps in 2018. His 99.1 pass-blocking efficiency grade ranked at No. 4 in the draft class.

Ford played right tackle at Oklahoma, yet many project a move inside. He’s an excellent athlete for his position and brings physicality, power, and size to the table. His hand usage is powerful and quick, but his footwork needs refinement — the main argument as to why he’s not pro-ready at tackle.

NFL’s in-house scout Lance Zierlein is part of the Ford as a guard contingent. His pre-combine write up of him features a comparison to Pro-Bowl guard Brandon Books, and this summary:

"Ford offers a rare combination of physical and athletic traits that will have NFL teams dreaming of his upside. — As a tackle, he’s a developmental, high-risk/reward talent. The safer (and better?) route might be to play him as a guard where he will face less exposure in pass protection and where his size and athleticism should allow him to become a plus run-blocker fairly quickly."

As of now, the Bills are giving Ford a go as a right tackle. But if his game isn’t ready for the position, a kick down to guard should prove fruitful for both sides. As Zierlein noted, his game would likely serve best in the interior, and it would mask his weaknesses. The Bills currently don’t have either guard position locked down.

Getting an immediate starter on the offensive line is good business. Getting one with a second round pick is a better business.