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2019 Buffalo Bills scouting report: offensive lineman Ryan Bates

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The Bills bolstered their depth with a trade over the weekend

NFL: AUG 08 Preseason - Titans at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was done. The Buffalo Bills’ roster ran 96 people deep, and we had an article written for each one. I cracked my knuckles. I might even have cracked a beer. I definitely celebrated with a timely gif from The Shawshank Redemption in the Rumblings writers’ slack channel.

But then, the weekend happened. The Bills made a flurry of moves, the first of which involved trading defensive end Eli Harold to the Philadelphia Eagles. The player they received in return, an offensive lineman, would need a profile. One extra player was fine.

Narrator: But it wasn’t only one player.

Today marks the beginning of our bonus installment of “90 players in 90 days,” as we profile the first of Buffalo’s post-training camp additions to the roster. Hopefully, they don’t add too many more players. Because, as Red told us, every man has a breaking point.


Name: Ryan Bates

Number: 71

Position: OL

Height/Weight: 6’4” 302 lbs.

Age: 22 (23 on 2/14/20)

Experience/Draft: R; signed as UDFA with Philadelphia Eagles after the 2019 NFL Draft

College: Penn State

Acquired: Via trade with Philadelphia on 8/9/19


Financial situation (per Spotrac): Bates signed a three-year deal with Philadelphia following the draft, a pact that totals $1,755,000. For the 2019 season, Bates carries a salary-cap charge of $495,000 if he makes the final roster. There is no guaranteed money in the contract, so Buffalo can release him at any time with no cap penalty.

2018 Recap: Bates earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors during his junior season, starting 12 games at two different positions. He was the starter at left tackle for nine games and the starter at right tackle for three games. Interestingly enough, his college biography says that he was on the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is given each year to the top interior offensive lineman in the nation. He had played guard before as a redshirt freshman in 2016, but he had been a tackle ever since.

Positional outlook: Bates’s versatility certainly helps him in Buffalo, as it’s a trait that the coaches covet in their offensive linemen. If he’s competing primarily at tackle, he has Cody Ford, Dion Dawkins, Conor McDermott, De’Ondre Wesley, and Ty Nsekhe to fend off for a roster spot. Garrett McGhin and Demetrius Rhaney are listed as offensive linemen, and the guards are Ike Boettger, Jon Feliciano, Quinton Spain, and Wyatt Teller.

2019 Offseason: Bates had participated in all of Philadelphia’s offseason activities, including a preseason game, before being traded to Buffalo.

2019 Season outlook: Bates is an intriguing prospect with good strength (only eight offensive linemen at the 2019 Scouting Combine finished with more bench reps than his 28) and mobility (his 4.53-second 20-yard shuttle was fifth among offensive linemen) who best profiles as a long-term backup at multiple positions. Given his youth, he has a good chance at sticking on Buffalo’s practice squad if he clears waivers after the preseason, but given the dearth of true offensive-line talent throughout the league, there’s also a pretty good chance that he’s claimed by a team desperate for reserves. Bates was an undrafted free agent, but his versatility should provide him the ability to stick around in the NFL.