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2020 NFL Draft: Finding a new right tackle

If the Cody Ford/Ty Nsekhe tango ends, here are some younger players to replace both.

Right tackle has been a position of real weakness for the Buffalo Bills for quite some time. In the 2019 offseason, the team attempted to patch up that weakness with the combination of veteran Ty Nsekhe and rookie second rounder Cody Ford. That experiment didn’t entirely work out in the team’s favor, as Nsekhe dealt with nagging injuries and Ford was slow to acclimate to pro-style pass blocking. Therefore, the status of the position remains up in the air. In the long run, it may be wise for general manager Brandon Beane to press the restart button on the position once again, drafting another rookie in hope that the new rookie could come in and start. If so, the Bills will likely be evaluating the prospects listed below.

Tier I

Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama)
Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
Mekhi Becton (Louisville)

Wills is perhaps the most athletic tackle in the class—and will prove it at the combine—and thanks to his experiences at Alabama he is battle-tested and pro-ready. Tristan Wirfs played right tackle this past season, but that is only because Iowa’s Alaric Jackson can only play on the left side. Otherwise, Wirfs is a polished prospect who should walk onto the field as a decent starter. Another battle-tested player out of the SEC, Thomas is much more advanced as a run blocker and doesn’t look great when moving in space, but his ability to anchor in pass protection is impressive. It’s rare for a player of Becton’s size (6’7”, 368 lbs) to move as well as he does, but he really looks like a dancing bear out there. Questions will be asked about his weight control, however.

Tier II

Josh Jones (Houston)
Austin Jackson (USC)
Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn)
Matt Peart (UConn)

Like Ed Oliver’s path from Houston, Jones will be raw coming out, but he has the development traits you want in a tackle. Similarly, Jackson has all the traits of a premier talent, but he is a younger player and hasn’t had the time on the field to develop his technique and strength. Struggling against pure power pass rushers, Wanogho is at his best when he’s on the move and taking advantage of his quick feet. Peart is the same way in terms of movement—although he doesn’t even have the exact length you’re looking for.

Tier III

Lucas Niang (TCU)
Ezra Cleveland (Boise State)
Alaric Jackson (Iowa)
Trey Adams (Washington)

A flexible and tough player, Niang is held back by injury concerns that cut his 2019 college season short. At his weight (310 lbs), it’s questionable if Cleveland would be able to start at tackle in the NFL outside of a zone-heavy offense. Jackson is a much more stiff athlete than his teammate Wirfs, but his measurements and experience starting in the Big Ten should get him drafted in the middle rounds. Adams is a bulky player suited to play right tackle in the pros, but his significant back problems should give teams pause.