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2021 NFL Draft: Getting bigger up front at guard

If Buffalo wants to improve their run blocking, drafting one of these guards would be a start

The Buffalo Bills’ guard positions were in flux during the beginning of the 2020 season, with injuries and poor play forcing Quinton Spain, Cody Ford and Brian Winters into the lineup at various times, before Ike Boettger and a healthy Jon Feliciano settled in as starters. Despite that, the line’s ability to run-block and impose their will on defenses was lacking all season, regardless of who was in the lineup.

Being able to close out teams late by switching to a power running attack is clearly something the coaches want from their offense, but just don’t have the personnel for it right now. Moving forward, with Spain gone and Winters likely gone this offseason, the team has a chance to draft another long-term answer along the interior line and virtually complete the offensive line. Below are just a few of the players the Bills might consider.

Tier I

Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)
Wyatt Davis (Ohio State)

Although he played left tackle this season, rather admirably, Vera-Tucker is a perfect fit for left guard in the NFL. Not only is his flexibility valuable, it proves that he has the movement skills and agility teams want in their guards. His tape is loaded with some highly athletic blocks that few interior lineman could attempt. Squatty and powerful, Davis is the opposite type. He’s built to hold his ground in the passing game and be the lead blocker on run plays. His ceiling isn’t that high, but he looks like a plug-and-play immediate starter.

Tier II

Trey Smith (Tennessee)
Deonte Brown (Alabama)
James Hudson (Cincinnati)

Two words that describe Smith: size and strength. He’s a massive guard (6’6”, 330 lbs) and hits opposing defenders like a dump truck. He’s not just a lumbering big guy either, as he’s surprisingly quick on his feet. Brown is a similar player to Smith, in that he’s completely massive and brings enough power to swallow up any linemen that take him on one on one, but he doesn’t move quite as well. He’s your typical gap-scheme blocker. A player who should benefit from competition at the Senior Bowl, Hudson is another tackle prospect who better fits guard in the NFL. He has the requisite traits to start, but needs more technical refinement.

Tier III

Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
Aaron Banks (Notre Dame)
D’Ante Smith (East Carolina)

Unlike most Alabama players, Dickerson isn’t a great athlete. He makes up for that with sheer size, a mauling mentality and simple hard work. Another Senior Bowl participant, Banks is well-rounded coming out of Notre Dame’s system, but doesn’t really have standout traits that make you want to anoint him as anything more than a backup. This ranking for Smith depends on a couple things, one of which is his health. The other is how he performs at the Senior Bowl, where the left tackle needs to prove he can dominate the one-on-one drills.

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