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Potential Bills Free Agent: OL Nat Dorsey

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Dorsey's versatility is appealing (Photo Source)

With the free agent signing period opening in about 57 hours, we are about to wrap up our potential Buffalo Bills free agent series. Over the past three weeks, we've taken a look at nearly twenty free agents (or, to be more accurate, then free agents) that would look good in red, white and blue. Cleveland offensive lineman wraps up that series today.

We can talk until we're bored to tears about how the Bills need help at several starting positions, but offensive line depth is a must-have for the Bills this off-season as well. The Bills were very fortunate that their starting offensive line stayed healthy throughout the 2007 season, and to expect that type of health from their big men once again is unrealistic. The Bills look for versatility in their reserve linemen, which makes a player like Dorsey - able to play both guard and tackle - a coveted commodity.

Dawgs By Nature's Take
Though Dorsey is just one example of the type of lineman the Bills could add (there are some other names available, most prominently former Dolphins lineman L.J. Shelton), the Browns tackle is worth investigating in his own right. The only thing we know about Dorsey is that he's massive (6'7", 335) and backed up the solid tackle combination of Kevin Shaffer and Joe Thomas in Cleveland last year. Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature, however, has seen Dorsey play first-hand, so his opinion immediately becomes valuable knowledge to this community. Here's his take on Dorsey:

Dorsey was drafted as a tackle and has started periodically for the Browns in that role. Can he play guard too?

True story: the entire pre-season, our backup offensive tackle competition was between two guys -- Kelly Butler and Nat Dorsey. Almost everyone in Cleveland thought Butler was much better as a tackle, and we were confident that he could step in and start for a few games if necessary. When final cuts came, I was very surprised to see Butler get cut and Dorsey make the roster. The only excuse I could surmise is the fact that Dorsey was capable of doubling as a backup guard (which he had practiced in camp) for us, while Butler only had experience at tackle. So, in short, yes, he is "capable" of playing guard.

Clearly, the Browns have some pretty major investments along their line. How valuable has Dorsey been as a reserve, and do you see the Browns making a play to re-sign him?

I was annoyed by the fact that we kept him last season. The Browns originally got him by trading center Melvin Fowler, whom I liked, to the Minnesota Vikings. In his few years with the Browns, Dorsey has been nothing but a big, slow, underachieving lineman. He's barely an answer as a backup, let alone a starter, and I don't see nor want the Browns trying to bring him back.

Discussion Time
So maybe Dorsey isn't the answer. Pokorny's feelings aside - and taking into account the fact that the Bills don't have a pressing need to sign a "big name", or even a known name, for that matter, along the line - Dorsey is exactly the type of signing you can expect the Bills to make if they address their depth issues via free agency. Dorsey has the size to play right guard should Brad Butler (who has an injury history) go down, and he has plenty of edge experience, so he could back up both Jason Peters and Langston Walker as well. He's never going to be an elite tackle, but his versatility is highly appealing. I still think, despite Pokorny's relative dislike of Dorsey as a player, that Dorsey would be another underrated signing for the Bills.

So that's it. Our free agent previews are over, and we only have a couple of days to go until the real news starts to break. Thoughts on Buffalo's O-Line depth, Dorsey (or players like him) and this free agent series in general are more than welcome. Let's hear it, folks!