When the Buffalo Bills began their offseason, no area of the team was a larger need than offensive line. Since that time, the group has been completely overhauled, but many of those players are signed to short-term prove-it contracts. There’s still room for a highly talented player to come into the room and establish himself as a long-term starter.
At offensive tackle in particular, Dion Dawkins is entering the third season of his four-year rookie deal. He’s been playing left tackle, but he’s not locked into that spot. Ty Nsekhe on a two-year deal, LaAdrian Waddle on a one-year deal, and backups Jeremiah Sirles and Conor McDermott are the main competition for offensive tackle right now.
Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor might have the talent to be Buffalo’s first-round pick. He’s an excellent athlete and has an encouraging mix of run-blocking and pass-blocking skills.
The way that Taylor would best fit with Buffalo’s “process” can be summed up with his weight. From 380 lbs as a high-school junior, Taylor dropped to 312 lbs four years later when he weighed in at the NFL Combine. He put in the work to transform his body and it paid off. He’s also a cold-blooded killer when blocking on the field.
Taylor was benched for a single series due to a violation of team rules, but that was his only infraction. He also made the SEC All-Academic Roll in 2018.
Taylor doesn’t quite have the gargantuan size of the 6’8” 330-lb Ty Nsekhe, but the 6’5” 312-lb tackle has a massive wingspan and would comfortably fit within Buffalo’s prototype thresholds at offensive tackle.
As a player who only played right tackle (aside from a two-game stint at left tackle), Taylor doesn’t match up with all of Brandon Beane’s quotes about “versatility” on the offensive line. Most of Buffalo’s linemen were cross-trained with at least two positions, so Taylor is a bit behind the curve in that regard.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Taylor to former first-round pick Vernon Carey. The 6’5” 340-lb tackle started 107 games in his career for the Miami Dolphins. In terms of measurements, another good fit might be Morgan Moses. Moses measured 6’6” and 314 lbs, with 35 3/8” arms—and he’s started four seasons at right tackle in Washington.
Sample play: Swap Trick Right Up 16 Boad (aka Fly Sweep)
Jawaan Taylor’s athleticism will really shine when running plays can put him on the move and ask him to block fast players in space. This running play, a designed fly sweep, is a great example. It’s not an easy assignment for Taylor—he’s asked to combo block the three-technique defensive tackle, then climb to the second level and block the weak-side linebacker. A pulling guard, working with the tight end, hopes to take out the defensive end, while the TE or RB needs to block the strong-side linebacker.
If everyone blocks well, including those crucial second-level blocks, then the flanker receiver (John Brown coming across the formation) will have a wide-open lane to run through.
In this day and age, right tackle is almost as valuable as left tackle on an offensive line. Taylor has the upside to eventually be a Pro Bowler at the position, but the Bills might have a logjam at the position in 2019 if they draft him. If that can be worked out, Taylor might be the long-term blocker Buffalo needs in front of Josh Allen.