Peters anchors a still-improving line (Photo Source)
Prior to the 2008 NFL Draft - in fact, prior to the free agent signing period of this past March - we took a look at the Buffalo Bills' roster position by position, breaking down then-current personnel, finding holes, and building our community needs list.
Now that free agency and the Draft have been completed, and the Bills have infused their roster with new talent, it's time to repeat our process. Where has Buffalo gotten better? Where have they gotten worse? How will additions impact which Bills veterans remain on the roster? These are questions that we'll attempt to answer over the next week or so.
We continue those discussions today with an examination of Buffalo's offensive tackle corps. To view our previous discussions on Buffalo's OT situation (pre-off-season), bang it here.
Jason Peters: Attention, Marshall Faulk - that left tackle you said the Bills needed desperately? A certain Mr. Peters that was elected to some all-star game in Honolulu last season might take offense to that, my friend. The 26-year-old has transformed himself from an undrafted free agent into a franchise left tackle, and while there's always room to improve, he can now be considered among the league's elite at his position. He has a long, bright future in Buffalo ahead of him.
Langston Walker: Buffalo's largest offensive lineman can be a bit of a liability in pass protection, but is considered a solid player that can overwhelm defenders at times in the run game. No, he's not a perfect tackle, but the skills he does possess complement those of Peters' well and he gives the Bills two above-average tackles.
Kirk Chambers: Chambers did not see much playing time last season (he started the season finale in Philadelphia in place of the injured Peters), but his performance was steady in what little time he did see. For now, he's a solid reserve that can block on special teams, but the team might be in trouble if he has to play much more than he did in 2007.
Patrick Estes: Signed near the end of the '07 season, Estes is a solid developmental prospect. However, the Bills have two more project players at the position, which could make it difficult for Estes to land a roster spot in '08.
Matt Murphy: For two seasons, Murphy stuck around Buffalo as a tight end; his forte was always as a blocker. Now, Murphy has been re-signed by the club and told to pack on the pounds, because he's moving to offensive tackle. Murphy will make a fine athletic tackle, and given some time, he could surprise as a fourth tackle to make the roster. If he transitions well enough, he may even give Chambers a run for his money as the team's top reserve at the position - and he can play receiver-eligible in goal line situations and would make a fine special teams blocker as well. This is a project worth keeping an eye on.
The Additions: Demetrius Bell
The estranged son of former NBA star Karl Malone is a seventh-round draft pick whose early role will likely be as a practice squad player. Bell has a world of potential, but hails from Northwestern State and has played just three seasons of football. He's an outstanding athlete with basketball experience, but he's extremely raw when it comes to football technique. He's another player that if coached properly and with some work could develop into a fine player for the Bills.
The Subtractions: None
Pre-Season Outlook: I love Buffalo's depth at this position, and the addition of Bell late in the draft gives the Bills a nice developmental prospect with the potential to eventually contribute on this team. Peters and Walker are a solid starting duo (not perfect), Chambers is a solid backup, and Murphy could be a surprise as well. There's intriguing depth here. This position only remains a team strength, however, if the two starters can continue to stay healthy.
As always, your thoughts on Buffalo's offensive tackles are welcome and encouraged in the comments section. For those of you clamoring to discuss the rest of the Bills' offensive line - namely, the guards and centers - hang tight; we'll be discussing them later on this afternoon. Stay tuned!
Note: For much more in-depth analysis of Buffalo's offensive line dealing with individual performance in 2007, be sure to check out Ron From NM's excellent FanPosts here and here.