What should the Buffalo Bills do at right tackle? It’s your turn to state your case. We’ve compiled as much information on Ty Nsekhe, Cody Ford, the current Bills, free agents, and the 2020 NFL Draft class to give you a complete picture of the choices. We’ve even shared data and opinions. Now it’s your time to decide.
At the bottom of this post is a poll for you to take, but first here are excerpts from all of our articles to help you scratch the surface.
(By Jeff Kantrowski)
This is the eye-test portion of the great right-tackle battle of 2019 and you’re looking at my hand-selected winner of the competition. Ty Nsekhe isn’t a perfect player but the worst thing I can say about him is that it kinda sucks he was injured this year. Josh Allen was better protected with the long reach of Nsekhe protecting his right side. More power and better technique than Ford currently possesses has made it a pretty clear cut competition most of the way.
(By Jeff Kantrowski)
This is the eye-test portion of the great, right-tackle battle of 2019 and you’re looking at my hand-selected runner up of the competition. Cody Ford demonstrated that physically he belongs in the NFL and can handle business at the right tackle spot all year long. When it came to technique, though, he was never going to make anyone shocked to learn he was a rookie. He did improve as the season wore on and made it a closer race. But Ty Nsekhe’s experience in the game and overall better technique made it an easier decision to rotate linemen.
(By Jeff Kantrowski)
Yards per pass
This context is important as the Bills’ yards per pass attempt with Cody Ford on the field would place the Bills in the “bad” group. With Ty Nsekhe on the field the Bills were in the upper group of the average cluster. There’s nearly a full yard of difference on average between the two right tackles.
Yards per rush
The overall number of 4.38 puts the Bills ranked number 13 or solidly in the average cluster. With Cody Ford on the field the Bills dip to 4.14, which would have them tied for 21st and still mostly average. With Ty Nsekhe on the field it raises to 4.98 yards per rush. If I round it that’s good for a tie for second-best in the league. If I don’t round it’s “merely” fourth-best in the league.
Plays per first down
For the Bills’ overall offense at 3.52 plays per first down then, what this means is that you can expect one first down about every three-and-a-half plays. This is pretty straightforward between the two tackles then. Cody Ford on the field was associated with less frequent first downs than the overall average. Ty Nsekhe was associated with more frequent first downs.
Plays per touchdown
This is the same idea. All of the numbers are on the graph to peruse so the only thing I’ll add is that the Bills waited seven less plays on average for a touchdown when Ty Nsekhe was on the field.
Plays per interception
Because interceptions kinda stink, this is one where more is better. This is the only stat of the measures I looked at where Cody Ford had the advantage. And it’s pretty darn sizable too. It’s also the one I’ll use to illustrate why these metrics are good enough to conclude it was better to have Nsekhe on the field, but it’s likely not as drastic a difference as some of these numbers suggest.
(By Matt Warren)
The veteran only has one year left on the deal he signed last offseason and it’s a very reasonable cap hit for a starting offensive lineman. His $5.2 million cap hit is a combination of $1.5 million from his signing bonus, $3.1 million in salary, $500,000 for a roster bonus (due March 22nd), and a $100,000 workout bonus. The pro-rated portion of the signing bonus is the only dead money left.
2020 cap hit: $5.2 million
Salary due: $3.1 million
Roster bonus: $500,000 (March 22)
Workout bonus: $100,000
Dead money if cut: $1.5 million
2020 savings if cut: $3.7 million
(By Matt Warren)
If the Bills wanted to move on from Nsekhe’s big contract and give Ford the keys to the RT position, they would have some serious work to do in order to add depth. The only tackles on their roster are Dion Dawkins, who mans the left side, plus Ford and Nsekhe. Ryan Bates has played some tackle but didn’t acquit himself very well when given the chance in Week 17.
(By Sean Murphy)
To be clear, this is a pipe dream—Conklin is expected to command huge money on the open market, and with the Bills already set to attempt to re-sign their own left tackle in Dion Dawkins, it would be a little crazy to commit what Spotrac expects to be around $15 million annually to another tackle. However, if you’re going to release your above-average semi-starter at right tackle, you’d better replace him with someone good. Conklin is much, much better than good. If Buffalo were to sign Conklin, that would signal a huge change up front, as the team would presumably move Ford to guard. They also would show a true commitment to protecting quarterback Josh Allen. This is unlikely to happen (in fact, I’d almost be willing to guarantee that it doesn’t), but Conklin is the best available player on the market.
Want to take a risk on someone else’s failed first-round pick? Ifedi was selected by the Seattle Seahawks at pick No. 31 in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he’s struggled mightily since entering the league. He’ll only be 26 when the season starts, so perhaps a change of scenery would do him good.
Former Carolina Panthers player...check. Versatility along the line with experience at multiple positions...check. Williams is a former fourth-round choice who is coming off an absolutely atrocious 2019 season. The Panthers bounced him back and forth between two positions, playing him at left tackle and at right guard, and that lack of consistency could have contributed to his poor play. Williams allowed 12 sacks this year after missing nearly all of the 2018 season thanks to a torn MCL and dislocated patella that actually occurred in training camp, but he tried to rehabilitate his knee rather than having surgery. He was carted off the field in Carolina’s first game of the 2018 season. In 2017 (his last full season at right tackle) he was among the league’s best at the position, which could be an indication of what he can do if given the chance at that kind of stability again.
If the Bills are looking more to add young players who can fit the mold of versatile backups, then Clark could be a sneaky-good fit. He played in 35 games for the Indianapolis Colts from 2016-2018, starting 12 of them (some at right guard and some at right tackle) before spending this year as the Ike Boettger of the Colts—he was on the 53-man roster, but he was inactive for every game this season. Clark was a member of the Colts’ offensive line when current Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson was the assistant coach in 2018.
If the goal is to have a solid veteran tackle to work in with Ford, why not re-sign one of the guys who was supposed to do that anyway last year? Waddle was having a good training camp before a quad injury ended his season before it began. At just 28 years old, Waddle has plenty of tread left on his tires, and he also has a wealth of starting experience. He’s played in 60 games, making 31 starts in his career. That kind of experience would absolutely help the Bills, and even if the team decides to keep Nsekhe, it would be worth asking what Waddle wants to stay in Buffalo this year.
(By Andrew Griffin)
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.
Lucas Niang (TCU)
Ezra Cleveland (Boise State)
Alaric Jackson (Iowa)
Trey Adams (Washington)
(By Bruce Nolan)
1. Ty Nsehke might be able to play 16 full games at RT, but his age makes it imperative we have a young tackle prospect behind him.
Age and size can sometimes catch up with an offensive lineman and, although I am of the opinion that Nsehke will be the best right tackle on the team next year, I believe it would be foolhardy for the Bills not to groom a replacement for the 34-year-old in the last year of his contract. I’d like to see a tackle taken within the first four rounds of the draft—someone who can either platoon with him as Ford did or take a back seat until Nsehke’s time with Buffalo is over.
2. Cody Ford can be a Pro Bowl-caliber guard, so don’t overpay for Spain
Ford was a top-five guard prospect for me coming out of college last year and I took quite a bit of hate on social media for my stance on that after the 2019 NFL Draft. His power and drive-blocking ability jumped off the screen when I was watching him play, his foot quickness gave me concerns that were confirmed by his athletic testing at the 2019 NFL Combine, and I continue to believe that although he can be a passable tackle in the NFL, he has absolute star potential at guard.
Quinton Spain is a starting guard in the NFL and should be paid as such after getting a one-year deal that is notably below market value for starting guards in the NFL. There is, however, an asset in Cody Ford that may be underutilized right now, so the Bills shouldn’t get pushed too high in negotiations.
3. Question 3 was answered by question 2
If Spain leaves (and if the Bills don’t get pushed too high in negotiations, he might), Ford represents the best possible replacement on the line rather than Spencer Long. I have great respect for Long’s ability to play all three interior line positions in a pinch and feel the Bills should absolutely opt-in to his contract in 2020 but, as stated above, Ford has the potential to be special in that spot.
If you’re not comfortable moving Ford to left guard, perhaps moving Jon Feliciano to left guard and Cody Ford only one spot over to right guard to keep any ambidextrous footwork concerns off the table is an option there as well.
Now it’s your turn to tell us what you want to do at tight end this offseason. If you’re using a mobile device, you may have to go to a web browser instead of using Apple News or Google AMP if you’d like to vote.
What should the Bills do at right tackle this offseason?
This poll is closed
Keep status quo: Rotate Ford & Nsekhe again in 2020
Name Nsekhe starter, move Ford inside to guard, add a depth tackle in free agency
Name Nsekhe starter, moved Ford inside to guard, add a depth tackle in the draft
Name Ford starter, cut Nsekhe, add a depth tackle in free agency
Name Ford starter, cut Nsekhe, add a depth tackle in the draft
Sign a big-name right tackle to be the starter, move Ford inside, cut Nsekhe
Draft a top-tier right tackle, move Ford inside, cut Nsekhe