When the Buffalo Bills selected Clemson offensive tackle Chris Hairston with a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, it represented the organization's biggest draft-day commitment to an offensive lineman since 2002, when the team selected Mike Williams with the fourth overall pick. Hairston, profiled here last week, appears to be the newest entrant in a three-man race for the starting right tackle job.
The most experienced candidate at the position is, sadly, Mansfield Wrotto, a veteran guard/tackle who made several starts on the right side in the second half of the 2010 season, where he replaced Cordaro Howard. Wrotto received a two-year contract extension just prior to the lockout.
If Buddy Nix's commentary means anything, however, the front-runner for the job ahead of Wrotto and Hairston is Erik Pears, who was added to the Bills' roster toward the end of the 2010 season, and who ended the year as the starting right tackle in blowout losses to divisional opponents. Nix has touted Pears' experience as a starter, and for now, we've got him penciled in as the starter. But given the extension Wrotto received and the investment the team made in Hairston, this looks like it'll be one of the more interesting positional battles of 2011 training camp (if it happens, of course).