CAPACCIO: Bills hoping major turnover means big turnaround for the offensive line

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Photo credit Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills may be setting a National Football League record for the most new players at one position from one year to the next.

After selecting Oklahoma’s Cody Ford with the 38th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bills have now added seven new offensive linemen since last season ended. General manager Brandon Beane clearly made a commitment to fix a unit that definitely had its struggles. The Bills finished 2018 ranked 21st in the NFL in both yards per-run and sacks allowed per-pass attempt.  

It started with Spencer Long, who was released by the New York Jets. Then, once the free agency period officially opened, they signed Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, Jon Feliciano, LaAdrian Waddle, and Quinton Spain. Then they drafted Ford.

Sean McDermott’s team is all but certain to have four new starters up front next year, and there’s a possibility they could turn over all five spots.

Morse will be the team’s new starting center. From there, there are a lot of possibilities since several of the players added offer position flexibility, something head coach Sean McDermott and Beane love to have. Long can play both center and guard. Nsekhe and Ford can play both tackle and guard. Feliciano and Spain are guards and Waddle is a tackle. The Bills also re-signed Jeremiah Sirles, who also can play both tackle and guard.

Former starting guard John Miller signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals. Former starting right tackle Jordan Mills and interior swingman Ryan Groy are still a free agents, but neither is expected to re-sign with the club. Last year’s starting center, Russell Bodine, will have to battle for a backup spot behind Morse. Vlad Ducasse, who started 21 games the last two years at guard, looks to have an uphill battle to even stay on the roster at this point. Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger will both be fighting for spots at guard, as will Conor McDermott at tackle.

The big question may be, where does all this leave Dion Dawkins? Dawkins started the last two seasons at left tackle after the Bills traded up to get him in the second round in 2017. Some believed he was more suited for guard. After some struggles last year, it’s possible the Bills move him inside to compete with the other names mentioned, or they could gauge the trade market to try and fetch an asset for him. Or, of course, Dawkins could simply trot back out as the starting left tackle once again, protecting Josh Allen’s blind side.

All total, the team now has 14 offensive linemen on the roster. Last year, they brought 15 to training camp, so there’s still room to add more to the growing competition up front, and more new names. A complete turnover Beane and McDermott hope leads to a big turnaround.

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