BALTIMORE MD - OCTOBER 24: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens defends against Demetrius Bell #77 of the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bills 37-34. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
This post is part of a series entitled State of the Buffalo Bills on a position-by-position basis. If you're confused about the number and letter classification appearing after each player's name, read this post. You can check out all previous installments of this series here.Roster, in which we're breaking down and evaluating the
To put it lightly, the offensive tackle position was an enigma for the Bills entering the 2010 season. The team's left tackle was coming off of a season-ending knee injury that prevented him from practicing until training camp, and also prevented him from practicing on Wednesdays during the season. The team's starting right tackle in camp landed on IR and is no longer with the organization; Buffalo eventually played three more players at the position.
Still, given the circumstances, the play of Buffalo's tackles was about as good as could have been reasonably expected. Clearly, there is a long way to go at this position. Our breakdown of Buffalo's offensive tackles lies after the jump.
Right now, the Bills have four offensive tackles in their organization. They also had some guards play tackle this year; if you see this short list and think "why isn't so and so here?", it's because we're going to include those players in the guard breakdown. (We're looking at you, Cordaro Howard and Mansfield Wrotto.)
Demetrius Bell (2-B). Straight from Chan Gailey's mouth: "I thought Demetrius had an OK year. I didn’t think he had a great year. I know with the injury he couldn’t practice Wednesdays at all the whole year. Again, I’m not trying to make excuses for anybody, but I’m just stating facts - he didn’t practice on Wednesdays. I think a year of strength and core development, I think will help him tremendously. He missed all of that because of a shoulder. He got no upper body work. He got no lower body work and he gutted out the season. He and Eric (Wood) gutted out the season for us. You’ve got to like that about a guy that will do that, but I think his upside is tremendous."
Ed Wang (3-D). Here is another case of an injury stunting a player's development; Wang missed the bulk of training camp and the early portions of the regular season with a thumb injury that required surgery. He appeared in one game - at guard - and was inactive quite a bit. Wang remains a developmental project, but it's unlikely that the team views him as a player they can rely on playing entering the 2011 off-season.
Erik Pears (3-E). Signed off the street in December, Pears earned some mild praise from Gailey for his work in appearances at right tackle over the Bills' final two games - both blowout losses. The veteran has likely earned a look on the right side when training camp opens this summer, but with that position being such a problem this year, expect competition.
Jason Watkins (4-F). Spent the season on the practice squad. A nice athlete, Watkins was routinely passed over for street free agents this season. That should tell you all you need to know about his future with the club.
Contract situations to monitor: Bell is under contract for one more season - at around $500K in base salary - then will become a free agent in 2012. It's not clear how long Pears' contract he signed in December will last, but if he got a one-year deal, he'll need to be re-upped, as well. Unless, of course, the team doesn't want to re-up.
Outlook: It should be plainly obvious at this point that Bell is entrenched at left tackle. Gailey is right - Bell was adequate in 2010, and if he can get healthier and stronger this off-season, he might actually become the slightly-above-average player Dick Jauron hoped he'd be in 2009. Right tackle is a crapshoot; look for Pears to compete with an import for the right to start there. If Wrotto and Howard factor into that equation, this team is in serious trouble. Again.
Possible Acquisition: The team could take the veteran route on the right side to compete with Pears, or they could take a player in the draft. Either way, they need players here; they cannot rely on Wang as depth at this point, and they shouldn't have to rely on Wrotto and Howard on the edge, either.