Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane does a lot of things well. Perhaps the thing he does best is add quality depth to the offensive line. Time and again, Beane has found ways to add plenty of pieces along the offensive line through both free agency and the draft. Not only has he added that depth, but he also flips it for draft capital when he has a surplus.
The Bills definitely have a “type” they prefer among their reserve offensive linemen, and versatility is the key to that type. In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one of the team’s most versatile pieces along the offensive line.
Name: Ryan Bates
Height/Weight: 6’4” 302 lbs
Age: 24 (25 on 2/14/2022)
Experience/Draft: 3; signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as UDFA following the 2019 NFL Draft
College: Penn State
Acquired: Traded to Buffalo from Philadelphia for edge rusher Eli Harold
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Final year of rookie contract ($850,000 cap hit; $0 dead cap charge if cut)
2020 Recap: Bates once again made the Bills a reserve offensive lineman, and his ability to theoretically play all five positions along the line thankfully was never put to the test. He did manage to appear on 82 offensive snaps and 93 special teams snaps across the Bills’ 16 regular-season games. He committed one penalty on the season, which was an offensive pass interference penalty against the Denver Broncos. That doesn’t have much to do with his ability, but it seemed like a fun nugget to throw into a profile about a reserve offensive lineman.
Positional outlook: Bates has some competition in the form of new signings and draft choices, but he has a few things going for him that other players don’t—chiefly, that experience playing everywhere along the line at some point in his college and professional career. The Bills seem to fancy him a tackle over other positions, but that ability to slide inside makes him a great addition to the roster. Buffalo’s other offensive linemen are Mitch Morse, Cody Ford, Jon Feliciano, Dion Dawkins, Daryl Williams, Jordan Devey, Jamil Douglas, Tommy Doyle, Bobby Hart, Jack Anderson, Ike Boettger, Steven Gonzalez, Forrest Lamp, Spencer Brown, and Syrus Tuitele.
2021 Offseason: Bates is ready to roll for training camp this summer.
2021 Season outlook: I have to think that the Bills will keep Bates around once again, as his versatility is simply too valuable as a reserve. Looking at the expected starting five (Dawkins, Feliciano, Morse, Ford, and Williams), we should expect the Bills to keep at least four reserves. If we assume that the team’s third-round pick, Spencer Brown, is safe along with Ike Boettger and former second-round pick Forrest Lamp, that leaves a lot of large men fighting for just one, possibly two spots. Bates could double as a reserve on the inside and the outside, which increases his value significantly. As usual, the Bills have plenty of depth in the trenches heading into training camp. When the dust settles, I expect that Bates will once again make the opening-day roster.