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State of the Roster: Bills Offensive Tackles

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Peters becoming a dominant LT (BuffaloBills.com)

Yes, folks, the Bills are still moving at a snail's pace as they work to fill vacancies in their front office and on their coaching staff. So slowly, in fact, that the team had not yet scheduled any interviews as of yesterday (according to Leo Roth's report linked above). So while we continue to wait for news on that front, let's spend the day talking about Buffalo's offensive line.

To date, we've gone over Buffalo's passing game by analyzing in-depth the Bills' QB, WR and TE positions. Continuing this offensive approach, we'll begin linking the passing game to the rushing attack, obviously via the men that make it all happen. Once we get through the line (and the running backs), we'll take a look at the offense as a whole, identify needs, and prioritize an offensive wish list that we'll then combine with a defensive one at a later date.

Let's discuss the edge guys first - Buffalo's offensive tackles:

Jason Peters
A centerpiece to Buffalo's offense, Peters was voted to his first Pro Bowl this year (he can't go due to injury). Incidentally, he was also selected as a 2nd team All-Pro by the AP. He has everything you want in a tackle - athleticism, punch, and close to perfect technique. He still makes the occasional mistake, obviously, but he's young. The Bills have found their franchise left tackle; they'll utilize his strengths (i.e., getting to the second level) a whole lot next season.

Will Improve in '08 if - he can continue to stay healthy :: he meshes well with his new O-Line coach, likely Sean Kugler :: he can eliminate small errors from his game

Langston Walker
Many fans still view the Walker signing as a poor one due to the money involved ($25 million); I assure you that's not the case. Walker was easily Buffalo's most consistent run blocker last season, and a big reason that many of RB Marshawn Lynch's biggest runs came off the right side (see: Denver, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia jaunts as examples). Walker improved as a pass blocker as the season played itself out, likely because the Bills went away from zone blocking. When the Bills run right, it's behind Walker, RG Brad Butler and more often than not a pulling Derrick Dockery as well. So if you feel inclined to be perplexed at the money Walker got last off-season, feel free; I think it's been worth it just from a stability standpoint along the line. We haven't been this balanced across that line in years.

Will Improve in '08 if - RG Brad Butler continues to improve next to him :: he can stay healthy, as he did for all 16 games in '07 :: the Bills continue to play to his strengths in the run game

Kirk Chambers
It was a bit of a shock when he beat out Terrance Pennington for the third tackle spot, but Chambers was a nice presence for the Bills this season. He only started one game - the season finale in Philly - and was part of a unit that didn't allow a sack on Trent Edwards against the Eagles' ferocious pass rush. He also was used on kickoff returns and was one of the more consistent players on that unit. Chambers is a young veteran with a good head on his shoulders; he'll never wow you with athletic ability, but he's been a surprisingly adept backup.

Will Improve in '08 if - he gets more help around him on special teams :: he continues to refine his technique :: he shows the ability to play either tackle position

Patrick Estes
Was a very late-season addition for the Bills, assuming the team's fourth tackle role. He didn't see any game action for the Bills, however. Not much to report on the kid - Dick Jauron seems to like him, but the Bills generally like to keep three tackles and five interior linemen with one who could slide outside if possible. Estes seems like he'd be solid depth, but his chances of making the '08 roster are marginal.

Off-Season Outlook
Honestly, Buffalo doesn't have much work to do here. Any work, for that matter. They've got their franchise player (Peters), a solid veteran mauler (Walker), and two young backups that they can continue to develop (Chambers, Estes). This unit will continue to benefit from the lack of zone blocking, because it will allow them to utilize their best talents. Buffalo, literally, is all set here - and that's a rarity when you look at this entire roster.

Possible additions: late-round draft pick
Possible subtractions: Estes