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91 players in 91 days: Offensive lineman Cody Ford

The right tackle could find himself at a new position this season

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing continuity as it relates to the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line in this series. With every 2019 starter under contract for the 2020 season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the 2020 offensive line would remain the same as its 2019 predecessor.

That assumption, of course, came with a caveat: if the line remained healthy, then it would remain the same. While the Bills have amassed plenty of depth along the offensive line, they did not have to use most of it in 2019. In 2020, they know that they’ll put that depth to the test before the first training camp practice begins.

In our latest edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of the starters on Buffalo’s 2019 offensive line—a player who will almost certainly start again, though not necessarily at the same position.

Name: Cody Ford
Number: 70
Position: OL
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 329 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 12/28/2020)
Experience/Draft: 2; selected by Buffalo in the second round (No. 38 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft
College: Oklahoma
Acquired: Second-round draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Ford enters year two of his four-year rookie contract, a pact that totals $7,506,640 overall. For the 2020 season, Ford carries a cap hit of $1,705,413.

2019 Recap: Ford was a starter along the offensive line as a rookie, making starts in 15 of 16 games for the Bills. The only game he didn’t start was Buffalo’s win over Washington, where veteran Ty Nsekhe started and played every snap. While Ford started all of the other games, he split time with Nsekhe when the veteran was healthy. When Nsekhe hurt his ankle against the Miami Dolphins, Ford took control of the right tackle gig for most of the remainder of the season. When Nsekhe was fully healthy again for the Wild Card Round, the two split snaps, with Ford taking 43 snaps and Nsekhe taking 42. Ford was whistled for a huge penalty in overtime—a questionable blindside block call—that negated a four-yard Josh Allen scramble that would have given the Bills a 4th-and-5 from Houston’s 38-yard line. Instead, Buffalo had a 3rd-and-24 that they couldn’t convert. Ford finished his rookie year as the majority stakeholder at right tackle, having played on 59% of the Bills’ offensive snaps. He committed ten penalties on the year and allowed 3.5 sacks.

Positional outlook: This section would have said that Ford was battling with Nsekhe and Daryl Williams to maintain his starting gig at right tackle and that would have been that. However, with Jon Feliciano having recently undergone surgery on a torn pectoral muscle, general manager Brandon Beane wouldn’t rule out moving Ford inside to right guard. That means Ford will also compete with Ike Boettger, Spencer Long, Evan Boehm, Marquel Harrell, and Brandon Walton for time, as well.

2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report...aside from the potential position change, that is.

2020 Season outlook: Ford may have led in snaps at right tackle, but Nsekhe was better than him by a wide margin when the veteran was healthy, and while Feliciano was very good for Buffalo, his presence has made Ford’s positioning a topic of discussion when it doesn’t have to be. Ford was inconsistent at tackle because there are certain things he doesn’t do well, namely move out in space against quicker edge rushers. Those weaknesses against speedier players would be negated if he were to move inside, as Ford’s brute strength and solid build profile perfectly as an NFL guard. Buffalo has the luxury of extreme depth along the offensive line, and that depth is amplified by the fact that the team has collected offensive linemen capable of playing multiple spots along the line. Buffalo will have to choose the best combination of players to start, and my money is on them deciding that Ford is a starter once again this season, but this time, he’ll be at right guard rather than right tackle.