(I'm no RonFromNM here. I certainly can't question the stats and efficiency ratings of Demetrius Bell. All I can say is what warrants concern from what I've seen. Just a student of the game, former player, current Michigan team manager, that has watched each Bills snap once or twice this season.)
Abstract: While many consider our current line to have some upside, the majority of the players we have used are fringe NFL players and have not displayed any sort of "flash" beyond flashes of inconsistency. Shown below are the reviewal of those who played in 2009, outlook to 2010 concerning each of 2009's players, the implications of 2010 outlook, recommendations and conclusion made for optimal improvement based on the implications. A progressive (as opposed to conservative) approach is taken.
In my mind,
- Hang has ranged between serviceable (read: Trey Teague) to slightly above serviceable. I believe this will be a constant.
- Levitre is the only player on the line who has shown the capability to be brilliant at his position. Wood showed this to a limited degree but his leg has complicated his potential for an excellent 2010 campaign.
- Scott joins Kiwi Mitchell as the two players that should never be in the starting lineup again.
- Bell's only saving grace has been the play of Scott, he's merely been the lesser of two evils (plus he's got the injury excuse as well).
- Butler's play has been solid, but with his tendency for injury (documented since the draft), he's been even less useful than Scott (and that's saying a lot).
- Jury is out on Meredith. Certainly his breakdowns are the most justified because of his rawness and I've actually liked what I've seen. I don't know if he can or should start 2010 but he's a good developmental player that should stick around after the axe falls.
- You could do worse (and slightly better) than Chambers in the reserve tackle spot. A worthy 1st or 2nd lineman off the bench as a stopgap. Miles ahead of McKinney.
- Simmons came in as a stopgap player and has fulfilled his role with mediocre play in a situation designed for failure. Should not be a starter in 2010.
- Jury obviously out on Incog (excited to see him play). Could be around in 2010 competing for a starting spot if he keeps his head on.
In recap, I divide all the relevant Oliners into three categories:
Shown to be part of the answer
I feel players Levitre, Hangartner, and Chambers (reserve) are the players we have now that we can win with.
Jury is out OR have NOT shown that they are NOT part of the answer
The jury is out on Wood, Incog, Meredith. Wood belongs in the higher category if he can return and stay at full health. These are players who have not shown failure or have not shown culpable failure and may belong in the above or below categorization- we just don't know.
Have shown culpable failure and should not be counted on (with potential replacements to be sought out)
Counting on players such as Scott, Bell, Butler, McKinney, Simmons in any role incurs a great deal of risk as they have shown sufficient inadequacy in their roles. In an ideal world, these players will not be considered "the answer" in 2010 and replacements will be attained.
Note: I know there are a lot of Bell fans out there who'll put him in the "jury is out category" but in my mind he has shown enough to make me believe he'll never be in the top half of LTs in terms of consistency. He's got the talent, but like Scott, just has a strong tendency for mental breakdowns.
IMPLICATIONS OF CATEGORIZATION:
- Between 4 players Hantgartner, Wood, Levitre, and Incog, I assert we have an interior set.
Seek: One capable backup, possibly two in the case of a Wood health setback or Incog departure
- Meredith should be in the competition at RT with FA/draft prospect to take over if/when Butler gets hurt. Low potential here that Butler gets beat outright.
Seek: One RT competitor
- LT is biggest area of concern.
Seek: HIGHEST caliber player via draft rounds 1/2 or 1st Tier-FA to A. start at LT or B. Force Bell to play at a highER level in order to play.
CONCLUSIONS: THREE additions: high player at LT, moderate player at RT, average player along interior. Make everyone not mentioned here walk.
Thanks for reading.