You know who I'm not the biggest fan of? Darwin Walker. Yeah, that's right - the guy who was supposed to make the Buffalo Bills' defensive tackles good again. The sack artist from Philly who would come in and immediately start has let his greed drive him out of town, and the Bills will be left with zero personnel turnover from last year. Assuming Larry Tripplett - the veteran of the group, a veteran of the defensive scheme and the highest-paid player at his position - starts again, there is an open spot next to him in the starting lineup. Who takes it? The name will be familiar...
The Favorite: Kyle Williams (95)
Last year's most underrated rookie, Williams earned the starting nod after proving to coaches that his non-stop motor is top notch. Amongst defensive tackles, Williams was the leading tackler last year (making 53 stops) and finished 11th overall on the team. His physical talent may not be overwhelming, but it's hard to undervalue his tenacity. He has the edge going into this battle playing the 1-gap technique next to Tripplett's 3-gap technique.
The Upstart: John McCargo (97)
Perhaps the biggest question mark on the entire Bills roster, McCargo was a first-round draft pick last season that was relatively quiet in the five games he appeared in. It is highly debatable whether or not McCargo was deserving of his first-round selection; it is undeniable, however, that the young man is talented. He has the size and athleticism to play either technique on the line, though he has been groomed mostly to play the 3-technique. If he is impressive enough throughout the pre-season, however, it's not out of the question to see him lining up as a starter on fall Sundays.
The Longshot: Darwin Walker (96)
Usually this slot is reserved for "The Darkhorse", but let's be honest - Tim Anderson is the longshot, and Walker is the no-shot. So I'm mercilessly putting him in this slot with the full expectation that most Bills fans realize that there's no real shot of Walker ever donning a Bills uniform.
The Really Long Shot: Tim Anderson (77)
Anderson, in all honesty, is not the best football player for this defense. That's not to say he's a bad football player - he's got a good work ethic and a good motor. He's just not close to being a good fit for this defense; if he does end up starting, the team is in serious trouble. He may end up losing a roster spot to little-known Jason Jefferson - that's how poor a fit Anderson is with this team.
Predicting the Winner
This is essentially a two-horse race, again assuming that the underachieving Tripplett is indeed a lock to be a starter. Given that he is so entrenched in the 3-technique role, the starter opposite him needs to have a developed 1-technique background. That, to me, means that Kyle Williams will be starting next to Tripplett. McCargo has the strength and ability to play that position, but it's far more likely that he'll be used in a 3-technique role as the first tackle off the sideline in this rotation. The team needs Williams to become a bit more of an impact performer than he was last season, but at this point he is a safer, steadier option than his first-round counterpart.
Poll Results: McCargo Shall Start
Many of you who participated in our abbreviated poll on this subject disagree with me and envision McCargo as the opening day starter. Honestly, I hope you're right - I hope he earns a starting spot over Tripplett. Larry has a lot to prove to me this season.
Assuming Larry Tripplett starts, who joins him?
Kyle Williams - 10 votes (32%)
John McCargo - 18 votes (58%)
Darwin Walker - 3 votes (9%)
Tim Anderson - 0 votes (0%)
Coming Tomorrow: The battle at Halfback. This is an important new addition to our offense, so make sure you vote in the poll to the right and let us know who you think should be starting at the newly-installed position!