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Opinion: Spencer Brown gives the Buffalo Bills an offensive tackle to dream on

A project tackle who might have serious upside.

The Buffalo Bills continued building up their trenches with their third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, taking Northern Iowa offensive tackle Spencer Brown 93rd overall. Brown is insanely athletic for an offensive lineman, but needs a lot of seasoning to develop his technique. That works well for the Bills, who have a long-term starter at left tackle and a short-term starter on the right side.

The 6’8” 311-lb Brown comes from a small school and a multi-sport background, and converted to offensive line in college. He would go on to start 31 games at right tackle for Northern Iowa, and could’ve had more if COVID-19 hadn’t cancelled his 2020 season. Instead of playing in the spring, he went to the Senior Bowl and impressed the scouts there.

Brown is a remarkable athlete. Among his pre-draft feats were 29 bench press reps (with nearly 35-inch arms), a 4.4 short shuttle, a 6.96 three-cone drill, a 117” broad jump, and a 4.94 40-yard dash. He’s pretty much a 99th percentile offensive tackle, in terms of athletic ability. Brown could be a starter someday, but needs to fix up his technique first. He plays with a high pad level (easy to do when you’re so tall) and needs to develop more coordination in his pass sets.

With the Bills, Brown might need to redshirt for a season. He could eventually take on a swing tackle role with the team, or become the starting right tackle of the future. Think of him as a young version of Ty Nsekhe, and that’s what you’re hoping to get out of this pick.

We knew that the Bills had a solid starting offensive line, but we also knew that there was room to improve over the unit in place. Brown’s selection is a nod to the future, a theme general manager Brandon Beane stressed pre-draft—this is another player who’s still learning his position, but has remarkable potential if he can put it all together. That’s the tactic you take when your goal is graduating to the Super Bowl. It’ll depend on the player and the Bills’ coaches to realize that dream.