The debate among Buffalo Bills fans over what position Cody Ford will play in 2020 got both clearer and murkier when head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media at the NFL Combine this week. Tackle or Guard? Where is he best right now? Where is he best long term? And perhaps most importantly, where does the team’s leadership think he is best?
During his meeting with the Buffalo media members on Tuesday, McDermott shared how the Bills are going to come to that determination.
“Depending on how the draft goes, and maybe free agency, could that dictate where Cody Ford winds up along the offensive line?” asked the reporter.
“Absolutely” was McDermott’s immediate one-word response before he continued. “Cody’s position flexibility was very apparent year one. There was a learning curve there as well just adjusting to the NFL, but being able to play two positions throughout preseason and also in the season at times I thought really spoke for who Cody is and his versatility. And now, you know, we’ll see how things fall into place through this process with both free agency and the draft and then we will go from there.”
McDermott was then asked if he was leaning one way or another for Ford in 2020.
“I don’t want to say he’s going to be this position or that position because of the flexibility. You know, we’re going to put it together like we do every season and the great part about it whether it’s Cody or Jon [Feliciano], Ty [Nsekhe], they’ve got some flexibility with not only playing right or left side but also guard or tackle. Some guys are guard and center flex like [Ryan] Bates was flex last year and you look at what Spencer [Long] was able to do. I think that’s all good for us.”
When pressed by Jay Skuski of The Buffalo News about determining where Ford is best being a big domino that dictates what the Bills do in the offseason, McDermott finally acknowledged the Bills do have an internal opinion on the situation.
“Well I think we have a feel for where he is best but at the same time he has a history of playing both, really. So we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves,” hedged McDermott. “It wouldn't be smart strategically to do that right now with where we are, with where Cody is in his development. It wouldn't be a smart move for us as an organization right now to say ‘well he’s just this’ because he’s a lot more than that potentially.”
While McDermott contends the smart thing to do is to not put Ford in a specific spot and pursue a focused development path for him at a single position, some fans and media members are skeptical about that approach. Common sense would suggest that narrowing a player’s focus on what they need to learn and get better at will allow them to make more progress than if trying to learn multiple things at once. Especially considering Ford’s intermittent (or worse) struggles at the tackle position during his rookie season, a defined plan about how to address those concerns seems a tall enough task in and of itself. As the old adage goes, chase two rabbits and they both escape.
Is it possible that being unable to focus on an individual position will be of no consequence to Ford’s performance in 2020? Yes. Is it also possible that he’d be further along if he knew exactly what he needed to work on for either the guard or tackle position? Yes. Which is right is currently in the eye of the beholder.
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