And Drawing a Conclusion.
One of the odder line-up facts from OTAs and Minicamp was Eric Pears getting most of the first team reps at right offensive tackle. No one seemed to talk much about this for some reason; why is Eric getting all those snaps? If one was to judge Eric Pears' 2013 season on what you read on the internet, one would think Eric would have been cut-loose right after the draft. Myself, I defended him a little bit remembering what our offensive lines looked like before Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey arrived on the scene. I know bad, Eric Pears was certainly unimpressive but I'll leave it at that for 2013.
Another odd thing that happened, only this time everybody talked about it was that OT Chis Hairston was moved to guard. First, it was great to hear and see that he was back, and then odd to see him at right guard getting about half the snaps with the first team yet. Chris Hairston mainly looked good in his first two years at OT, why the move? He admitted he had never played guard before in his life, that gave Bills beat writers something to write about although no real conclusions were drawn.
In 2013, one could argue that the Bills only had one guard on the roster with a grade of passable or better. That was mammoth right guard Craig Urbik. Just about every Bills fan knows the left guard spot cost the Bills some games in 2013. Some say Doug Legursky filled-in well once he came back from injury and was inserted into the line-up. I will give him that he stopped the gushing of blood at the spot but not much else. To remedy the situation, the Buffalo Bills first off-season acquisition was Chris Williams who played left guard for the Rams last season. This was a controversial signing due to ProFootball Focus' opinion on the man. For reasons, that I won't go into here, I like the signing. That signing, if I am right, gives us at best, only two good guards and just as importantly, only three good interior linemen. To that end, the Bills addressed the lack of depth a little bit in the draft with fifth rounder Richardson from Baylor. I really like the pick, but it isn't often you put a fifth-round draft choice into the line-up as rookie and not look back. The Bills also brought in a slew of mostly undrafted free-agents at the position in to compete. With all the additions combined with Urbik and whomever else on the roster you'd like to count, I think the best grade anyone could give our interior line and its depth is a B-. We need to strive for an A everywhere.
Over the winter, many speculated as to the current health and condition of Chris Hairston. I think it wisely advised that the Bills not consider him a player and act accordingly. To me, the Bills did just that using big resources adding Alabama star left tackle Cyrus Koujanjio in the second round of the draft. To further bolster the line, the Bills added Sentral Henderson in the seventh round. It is a well known fact that Henderson received a much higher grade as a player and fell due to off field concerns. So, knowing you have a young star at left OT and perhaps, thinking your current right OT is a more valuable asset than most others outside your organization, and liking your new draft picks at the back up positions, what do you do with the unexpected, "blessing" of Chris Hairston's healthy return?
One can only conclude one thing when looking at the fact that Eric Pears is getting most of the starting right OT reps and that Chris Hairston has been getting a lot of starting right guard reps. One concludes that for now, the Bills plan is, at the very least, to keep Eric Pears. Maybe something happened that hurt his ability to play well last season and that problem has been resolved. I don't know, but that is the way I am going to look at it. I am thinking it is just more good news for the offensive line and the Buffalo Bills.