The Buffalo Bills struggled to block consistently last season. A unit that helped pave the way for the NFL’s best rushing attack in 2015 and 2016 took a big step backward with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and his zone-based blocking scheme. While the unit improved as the year progressed, the team lost sixty percent of the opening day starters from 2017, as left tackle Cordy Glenn was traded, and left guard Richie Incognito and center Eric Wood both retired in the offseason.
With so much turnover at the position, there will be plenty of change in 2018. Our latest player in our “90 players in 90 days” series is a young offensive tackle looking to capitalize on that turnover.
Name: Conor McDermott
Height/Weight: 6’8”, 305 lbs.
Financial situation (per Spotrac): McDermott enters the second year of his rookie contract, a four-year deal worth $2,535,018. In 2018, he’ll count $555,000 against the cap.
2017 Recap: After being drafted by the Patriots, McDermott made it all the way to the final cutdown in Foxborough before he was waived on September 2. The Bills claimed him right away. McDermott was inactive for 13 of Buffalo’s 16 regular season games, appearing on the game day roster only against the Denver Broncos in Week 3, the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, and the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14. He logged one offensive snap all year, with that snap coming in the “Snowvertime” game against the Colts.
Positional outlook: It would appear that Dion Dawkins and Jordan Mills are entrenched as the left and right tackles, respectively, although Dawkins is a safer bet to start than Mills is due to the former’s performance as a rookie. Mills is a below-average starter in this league, which opens the door for young competition like McDermott to overtake him. The team also signed veteran Marshall Newhouse to compete either for the right tackle job or the swing tackle job. McDermott is clearly someone the team likes, having stashed him for the duration of the 2017 season, so it’s not impossible for him to earn a role on the team in 2018.
2018 Offseason: Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News wrote in March that offensive tackle was no longer a need for the Bills, stating that McDermott could push Mills for the starting right tackle position this year. There hasn’t been much written about the offensive line yet, but head coach Sean McDermott (no relation to Conor) specifically mentioned Mills and his leadership when talking about the team’s offensive line, so it will take a strong offseason from Conor in order to win over Sean.
2018 season outlook: McDermott has a very good chance to make the roster this season out of training camp. He was on the 53-man last year when Cordy Glenn was hurt. His goal, of course, will be to make sure that he’s active on game days. The competition should come down to him, Newhouse, and Mills for the three active tackles on Sundays.