When it become apparent in March that unrestricted free agent left tackle Demetress Bell wouldn't be returning to the Buffalo Bills, the team knew that it would be entering the 2012 NFL Draft with just three tackles on the roster. Clearly, the Bills had some work to do at the position just from a numbers standpoint; they ended up accomplishing more than simply finding bodies.
In 2011, we made a big deal about fourth-round pick Chris Hairston being the Bills' highest-drafted tackle since Mike Williams. A year later, that's already changed, with the team spending a second-round pick (and nearly spending a first-round pick) on Cordy Glenn.
Age: 29 (30 in June 2012)
Contract: UFA in 2015. Signed a three-year, $9.3 million deal in December 2011.
Considered the weak link on the offensive line in the months leading up to the 2011 season, Pears proved to be a durable, reliable and consistent pass protector in his first full season as Buffalo's starting right tackle. He was good enough to earn a three-year contract extension, played well around very occasional penalties and miscues, and will be a mainstay at right tackle for the foreseeable future. Not bad for a street free agent signing in late 2010.
Age: 22 (23 in September 2012)
Contract: Currently unsigned. Will likely get a modest four-year deal as a second-round pick.
The book on Glenn, the team's second-round pick: he's a massive dude with good athleticism for his size, has a ton of starting experience in a power conference, and though he has plenty of bad tape at the position he'll play in Buffalo (left tackle), he also got markedly better at said position throughout his senior season. Folks like to cite his versatility (he can play four spots on the line) as reasoning for touting his value to the team, but Glenn is here to become the long-term left tackle the team has been seeking since the trade of Jason Peters. Make no mistake about that.
Contract: UFA in 2015. Entering the second year of a financially undisclosed four-year rookie contract.
Forced into action well before he was ready to play thanks to a Bell injury, Hairston showed well initially at left tackle, got hurt, and then struggled at the tail end of his rookie season. The Bills, however, remain very high on Hairston as a blind-side protector. Though he looks like the odd man out in terms of down-the-line starters (those are Glenn and Pears), Hairston at worst will be an experienced swing tackle with upside - and he'll get the chance to keep Glenn on the bench, as well.
Age: 22 (23 in December 2012)
Contract: UFA in 2016. Signed a four-year rookie deal in early May.
Another tenured and consistent collegiate tackle, Sanders is viewed by Bills scouts as a right tackle - but he may have the athletic chops to play the left side down the line, as well. For now, Sanders is competing on the right side behind Pears, with the end goal of being the fourth tackle entering regular season play. The fourth tackle typically does not dress on game days, but it's tough to envision Sanders not making the 53-man roster at this point.
Age: 24 (25 in June 2012)
Contract: UFA in 2014. Has two years and $1.065 million in base salaries due on his rookie contract.
Young is huge and smart, which is what the Bills like in their offensive linemen. He only appeared in three games for the team last season, however, and didn't see any time at tackle despite a rash of injuries in the middle portions of the season. He'll have his work cut out for him making the team with (at least) two highly-regarded rookies in the building.
Contract: Signed as an undrafted free agent in April. Contract parameters undisclosed.
When the Bills signed Madsen, GM Buddy Nix made it known that the brother of former NBA star Mark Madsen was a pre-draft favorite of offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris. That might explain away the fact that Madsen is significantly smaller than every other tackle on the roster at a puny 6'4" and 309 pounds. There's a chance that he'll play guard (or maybe even center) in camp this summer, but if D'Alessandris likes him, he's got practice squad potential.
Contract: Undisclosed. Signed as an undrafted free agent in early May.
A massive and athletic undrafted free agent, Carmon is inexperienced as an offensive lineman, having played on the defensive line for most of his career at Mississippi State. He's purely a developmental player at this point, but could stick on the practice squad with a good summer.
POSITIONAL OUTLOOK: This is mercifully cut and dry, which is a nice change of pace for the Bills at the position - even if there are still matters to be resolved. Pears is the right tackle. Glenn will battle Hairston for the left tackle job in what should be one of the better training camp battles of the summer. Sanders will be developed, and he'll try to hold off Young for a roster spot. Madsen and Carmon are both intriguing prospects with practice squad potential. There is size, youth and talent here. There is size, youth and talent here. There is size, youth and talent here.