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Patrick Lewis scouting report

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Get the low down on the newest member of the Bills, Patrick Lewis.

Patrick Lewis is the Buffalo Bills’ brand new backup center, and it’s time you learned about his story, and what he can bring to the field.

I checked in with former Field Gulls EIC and current NFL staff writer at The Ringer, Danny Kelly, and here’s what he provided about the 6’1” / 305-pound interior offensive lineman:

Lewis is a weird case, honestly. Always been somewhat reliable, definitely experienced, but the Seahawks don't seem to like him much. they've cut and re-signed him a few times, so he's been someone they've turned to, but only in times of desperation. I think he's solid, but in the Seahawks zone scheme I don't think he's good enough laterally to make the blocks they want him to make like the reach and seal on the play-side nose, or reaching the playside 3T. If he's in a man scheme, I'm guessing he'll be ok. Not sure he has a ton of ballast in pass pro either. I would categorize him as a good backup.

While Greg Roman’s ground game features some zone-blocking, its foundational identity is rooted in downhill, power concepts. According to Kelly, the latter could bode well for Lewis in Buffalo’s offense and may explain why the Bills put in a claim on him.

I also got a lengthy response on Lewis from Kenny Arthur, the current Field Gulls EIC:

If you know someone who can solve the mystery of Patrick Lewis, please send them my way.

In 2013 he was with the Packers, Browns, and Jaguars. Then in 2014, the Seahawks picked him up off waivers as support for Pro Bowl center Max Unger. It turned out that Lewis would be called on sooner than expected when Unger missed 10 games that season, with Lewis filling in for four starts and then Lemuel Jeanpierre and Stephen Schilling picked up the slack as well. In Lewis' games, the offense seemed fine, scoring 150 points in the six games he appeared in, plus 31 in a playoff win over Carolina. After the season, the team traded Unger to the Saints in a cost-cutting move, leaving Lewis in a battle to be the starting center between him, Jeanpierre, and unknown Drew Nowak, who had played defensive tackle up to that point. After a summer competition and into the preseason, Nowak won the job. Lewis was his backup.

But the team struggled out the gate, and Nowak was benched midway through the year, seen as a key component to everything that had been going wrong on offense. Lewis came in and suddenly everything seemed to click. Seattle won six of their final seven games with Lewis as the center and Russell Wilson played the best football of his career. The run game was solid, the passing game was out of control, Lewis was seen as a key component of the turnaround because he was one of the big things that changed. But I think the playoffs highlighted areas of concern with the offensive line, particularly on the interior.

They struggled to score in a win over the Vikings in sub-zero temps, then Wilson was mauled early and often as the Seahawks fell behind 31-0 to the Panthers in the divisional round. With Lewis as the center, plus Justin Britt and JR Sweezy as the guards, Seattle couldn't defend massive interior pass rushers like Geno Atkins, Kawann Short, and Aaron Donald. I just don't think Lewis stands a chance against good interior pass rushers and it showed in games like those ones; The Seahawks went 1-5 against those nose tackles last year. Not saying that's Lewis's problem, but it was one of the big problems for Seattle and he's literally at the center of blocking those guys.

Cut to this offseason and you'd think that Lewis would be the frontrunner for the starting gig, but not only did that not happen, they moved Britt (a terrible tackle and guard) to center and basically made it his job to lose. Then they drafted center Joey Hunt in the sixth round and said he was a guy that they couldn't have left the draft without. That's how little they think of Lewis, it seems. Britt has made miles of advancement as a center though and won the job outright. Hunt was third string for all of training camp and preseason, until finally being moved up to the second team against the Cowboys last week. That's when the team felt comfortable naming Hunt as the backup and trying to find a trade partner for Lewis. When that didn't happen, they released him.

At this point, Lewis is a 25-year-old center stuck in a sea of centers that were let go by other teams (John Sullivan, Bryan Stork), and it seems like the position isn't being highly valued right now. He wasn't good enough to start for the offensive line that PFF ranked as the worst in the NFL. It seems like he does okay when he's out there if you base it off of the results of the offense as a whole, but the team clearly sees a lot that they don't like. I don't know if it's on the field or off, but they've been treating him like an ugly t-shirt your grandma gave you that you're obligated to wear at the holidays.

Maybe he's made some strides in Seattle and just wasn't a fit for that team and will make it somewhere else, but he's also a guy that went undrafted and then was looked at by three teams who released him during his rookie season. He's a long shot to make it long-term, in my opinion.

Though he’s proven to be not much more than a backup center with a sprinkle of starting talent, due to his youth and experience, Lewis has upside and certainly strengthens the depth on the interior of Buffalo’s offensive line.