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91 players in 91 days: Guard Marquel Harrell

Harrell figures to push for a reserve role or a spot on the practice squad this summer

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Outback Bowl - Minnesota v Auburn Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills return all nine of their top offensive linemen from last season. In many cases, we could just leave it at that, as many could assume that the same grouping would make the team in 2020 if they performed well enough in 2019. However, the team also added a few free agents and rookies along the line, adding depth to one of the team’s deeper positional groups.

While the starting five is as close to set as it could be without being official, the battle for spots six through ten should be fierce. In today’s installment of our “91 players in 91 days” series, we profile one of the rookies trying to make a name for himself this offseason.

Name: Marquel Harrell
Number: 68
Position: G
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 307 lbs.
Age: 22 (23 on 7/18/2020)
Experience/Draft: R; undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft
College: Auburn
Acquired: Signed as UDFA with Buffalo on 4/25/2020)

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Harrell’s rookie deal is a three-year pact worth a total of $2,305,000 overall. There are $45,000 worth of guarantees in the contract in the form a signing bonus. If Harrell is cut, that bonus represents the total dead-cap charge Buffalo is responsible for this year. If he makes the final roster, he carries a salary-cap hit of $616,666.

2019 Recap: Harrell reprised his role as Auburn’s starting left guard as a senior, making 13 starts for the Tigers for the second consecutive season. He was an integral part of an offensive line that paved the way for a stellar Auburn rushing attack, as the team averaged 199 yards per game on the ground and 4.7 yards per carry. Harrell was named Second-Team preseason All-SEC by Phil Steele, and he was voted Third-Team All-SEC by the conference’s coaches. He also made the SEC All-Academic Team. At his pro day in March, Harrell benched 225 lbs a total of 25 times, which is the same amount as Denver Broncos third-round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III. He was clocked at 7.98 seconds in his three-cone drill, displaying solid agility for a man of his size; that time was significantly better than New England Patriots sixth-round pick Justin Herron, who ran it in 8.41 seconds.

Positional outlook: Harrell joins a crowded field along the interior offensive line, as the three starters (Quinton Spain, Mitch Morse, and Jon Feliciano) are all but set in stone. That leaves Harrell fighting with Ike Boettger, Evan Boehm, Spencer Long, Ryan Bates, Garrett McGhin, and Daryl Williams for, most likely, two roster spots.

2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report.

2020 Season outlook: Harrell seems like the kind of solid athlete that Buffalo likes to keep around as a reserve offensive lineman. He’s young, intelligent, and athletic, and he certainly has the potential to develop into a solid contributor. Unfortunately for him, the Bills already have a bounty of proven veteran depth at his position, meaning that he’s auditioning for a role without much chance of earning it immediately at his current location. I expect that the Bills will try to retain Harrell on their practice squad this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s scooped up by another club in need of offensive line depth at the end of the preseason. He should be a priority practice-squad player for Buffalo come the start of September.