The Buffalo Bills acquired Jordan Mills midway through the 2015 season, signing the offensive lineman off of the Detroit Lions’ practice squad. Since then, he has been both a swing tackle and, since 2016, the full-time starter at right tackle. His play has ranged from horrendous to adequate throughout that span, leading for many fans to speculate that he could be out of a job.
In our latest installment of the “90 players in 90 days” series, we look at a man who has survived two coaching regimes with little challenge to his job title as starting right tackle of the Buffalo Bills.
Name: Jordan Mills
Height/Weight: 6’5” 316 lbs.
College: Louisiana Tech
Draft: Drafted in the fifth round (163rd overall) by the Chicago Bears in 2013
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Mills enters the final year of a two-year, $3.8 million contract signed prior to the 2017 NFL season. For 2018, he carries a cap hit of $2.25 million; however, if he were to be released, the team would only have to eat a $500,000 dead cap charge.
2017 Recap: Mills was himself in 2017, playing as a below-average tackle for the majority of the season. Pro Football Focus graded Mills at a 65.7 overall, which was 43rd among all NFL tackles. Mills tied Richie Incognito in penalties taken among Buffalo offensive linemen for the second consecutive year—he had 6 penalties accepted against him in 2017, and 7 in 2016—while also leading the team in sacks allowed for the second consecutive year (6 last season, 7 in 2016).
Positional outlook: The Bills did not add a tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft, but they did bring in veteran Marshall Newhouse to serve as competition. While Newhouse may also be looking to play the role of swing tackle, he can’t be viewed as an upgrade to Mills. His PFF grade was significantly worse (46.4), and he allowed more sacks (8) than Mills last season, as well, while also having 4 penalties accepted against him. The Bills also have Dion Dawkins, who projects a the starting left tackle, to go with Conor McDermott, De’Ondre Wesley, Ike Boettger, Josh James, Mo Porter, and Gerhard de Beer on the roster.
2018 Offseason: Head coach Sean McDermott praised Mills for his leadership earlier in the offseason when asked about the departures of veterans Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, and Eric Wood along the offensive line. While much has been written about the rotation along the interior offensive line, little has been noted regarding any changes with the first-team tackles.
2018 season outlook: Mills is not a player who should be a lock on any roster, but there is a great likelihood that the coaching staff views him as one. Since his arrival in 2015, Mills has been a below-average starter in the league. With a known-quantity (who is also well below-average) in Newhouse and a host of unknowns behind him, it’s hard to fathom a scenario in which the Bills make a change here. Of all the unknowns, Conor McDermott is the one with the best chance to surprise and unseat Mills, but that appears unlikely. However, if Mills continues to struggle, he very well may force the coaching staff’s hand.