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Fan sentiment: What should the Buffalo Bills do at defensive tackle this offseason?

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How can Buffalo replace Kyle Williams?

The Buffalo Bills have a large practical and metaphorical hole to fill on their defensive line this season with the retirement of Kyle Williams. There are lots of ways for them to address his spot at defensive tackle. We broke down all of them Thursday morning and have excerpts below, but it’s your job to vote now: what should the Buffalo Bills do at defensive tackle this off-season?

Jordan Phillips, an unrestricted free agent who Buffalo claimed on waivers this season, could simply step in to the job, should he re-sign, but that’s not a given. We spent more time with him to see how he played and what his contract might look like before moving into free agents and the 2019 NFL Draft. Read up below.

Jordan Phillips All-22 Analysis

Read the entire article be Jeff Kantrowski)

Phillips usually reached playing time percentages in the 30s, never seeing massive amounts of time on the field. In 2018, Phillips recorded four defended passes. That doesn’t sound impressive but it places him in a tie for 12th place in the league among all defensive linemen. Many of the players ahead of him on the list are not backups, such as Cameron Jordan, Carlos Dunlap and Akiem Hicks. No defensive lineman had more than eight passes defended.

And if we filter out defensive ends, the only defensive tackle with more passes defended is Chris Wormley. Ndamukong Suh and Stephon Tuitt tied Jordan Phillips with four. All three of these players are about 40 lbs lighter than Phillips. This is not an anomaly either, as Phillips has never had fewer than three in his four year career, despite never establishing himself as a starter.

Jordan Phillips turned out to be a productive in-season find and valuable backup for Star Lotulelei. While he’s not prone to bowling people over, he can occupy a couple lineman and free up others to get the glory stats. In addition, he seems to have a knack for tipping the ball at the line. While that shouldn’t be a primary consideration for a defensive tackle, it’s a nice bonus skill. Phillips clicks in Buffalo and does an adequate to great job with his current role on the team. Unless the defensive scheme/game plan changes drastically, Phillips should be a player the Bills look to keep.

Jordan Phillips Contract Projection

(Read the entire article by Matt Warren)

If you look at all the free agent defensive tackle contracts signed in 2018, the majority were for a single year. Only Lotulelei, Dontari Poe, and Xavier Williams signed multi-year deals a year ago.

Factor in a strong class of potential free agents and a strong class of players available in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the Bills are in a strong negotiating position. All of that is to say, I’m offering him a one-year deal to see what he can do in training camp knowing I can get another that can do that cheaply. That’s not a deal Phillips is going to sign before he hits the open market.

Our offer:

One year, $1.8 million
$350,000 signing bonus
$350,000 guaranteed

Free Agent Options

(Read the entire article by Sean Murphy)

Grady Jarrett
The clear top dog at the position is Jarrett, who has improved with every season in the NFL. Playing along the interior line for the Atlanta Falcons, Jarrett totaled 52 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, 16 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles in 14 games this year. Given his talent and his youth, he will probably demand a sizable contract (like $15 million per year), one that general manager Brandon Beane may decide isn’t worth it given Buffalo’s vast array of needs.

Margus Hunt
At 6’8” and 300 pounds, Hunt is an absolute mountain of a man. Hunt is 31, so the “raw prospect” label is a bit tough to swallow given his advanced age, but he did not begin playing in the NFL until he was 26. As a rotational piece, Hunt still has tremendous potential, and he could be a good value signing if the Bills choose to go that route.

Ndamukong Suh
Another player whose contract will probably be too rich for the Bills’ blood, Suh is an elite pass rusher from the middle of the line, averaging 18 quarterback hits per season throughout his career. Suh totaled 59 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, and four tackles for loss in 2018.

Sheldon Richardson
Richardson is a familiar foe, having played the first four years of his career with the division-rival New York Jets. He played with his third team in as many years in 2018, suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings on a one-year contract. He notched 49 tackles, six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 16 quarterback hits this season in 16 games.

Gerald McCoy
This one is kind of a bonus, since McCoy is technically still under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, rumors have been swirling since the regular season ended that the Bucs would release the soon-to-be-31-year old defensive tackle. McCoy has great size (6’4,” 300 pounds), explosive speed, and great strength. He is an excellent pass rusher (54.5 sacks, 140 quarterback hits in nine seasons) and an explosive run defender (79 tackles for loss in his career).

2019 NFL Draft Options

(Read the entire article by Andrew Griffin here with scouting reports on each player)

Tier I

Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
Ed Oliver (Houston)
Rashan Gary (Michigan)

Bursting onto the scene as a sophomore, Williams isn’t your typical Alabama defensive tackle. Instead of being a big, strong immovable object—he’s small, cat-quick, and nimble. Best of all, he’s quite young, so he ceiling is high. Oliver went into the season as an unquestioned top-five pick, but he seems to have lost some of his luster after apparently clashing with his head coach. Talent-wise, nothing has changed. He’s still amazingly athletic and strong for his size. Used as a defensive end at Michigan, Gary’s size and über-athleticism are best-utilized along the interior of the defensive line. However, any team that drafts him for that role will need to be patient.

Tier II

Jeffrey Simmons (Mississippi State)
Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State)
Christian Wilkins (Clemson)

Scouting reports available in the full article

Tier III

Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)
Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame)
Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois)
Gerald Willis (Miami-Florida)

Scouting reports available in the full article

Now it’s your turn to vote, Bills fans. What do you want to do at defensive tackle?

Poll

What should the Bills do at defensive tackle this offseason to replace Kyle Williams?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Sign Jordan Phillips to start, draft a backup
    (220 votes)
  • 7%
    Sign Jordan Phillips to start, sign a backup veteran
    (60 votes)
  • 32%
    Draft a starter, sign Phillips as depth
    (255 votes)
  • 22%
    Sign a top starter, sign Phillips as depth
    (178 votes)
  • 3%
    Bye Phillips, draft a starter and add depth
    (29 votes)
  • 5%
    Bye Phillips, sign a starter and add depth
    (41 votes)
783 votes total Vote Now