The Buffalo Bills entered the 2021 NFL season with fantastic depth along the offensive line. The team seemed to have exactly what it needed: two veteran tackles, a veteran center, a veteran guard, and a third-year interior lineman looking to show that he belonged in the lineup.
Of course, what we all expected to happen is what ended up happening: one of the veteran tackles moved to guard, a utility player entered the lineup as the fifth person to play guard, thereby solidifying the lineup, and a developmental rookie ended up earning the job as the starting right tackle. There may be a little sarcasm there, too.
With all of the change up front, one thing became clear: Buffalo has its bookend tackles for the present and the future. We continue our look at the state of Buffalo’s roster with a profile of the offensive tackles.
Note: While Daryl Williams began the year at right tackle, he ended it at right guard. With that in mind, we’ll discuss him with the interior offensive linemen in our next post. The same logic applies to Ryan Bates, another player we’ve traditionally lumped in with the tackles.
Contract status for 2021: Signed; second year of four-year rookie contract ($1,098,795 cap hit; $657,108 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: 23 (24 on 2/28/2022)
Playing time: 13 games (10 starts), 726 offensive snaps (60.6% of team total), 48 special teams snaps (11.1% of team total)
Key statistics: 7 accepted penalties against, 66 penalty yards, 1 sack allowed, 30 pressures allowed, 2 tackles for loss allowed
Drafted out of Northern Iowa in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, we expected that Brown would take a year or two to develop behind Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams. However, Cody Ford’s ineffectiveness at guard necessitated a move inside for Williams, and the coaches inserted Brown into the starting lineup for the Bills’ 40-0 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 4. From that point on, Brown remained a fixture in the starting lineup whenever he was healthy. He brings a certain nastiness to the line that guard Jon Feliciano brought, only with more consistent and effective blocking to boot. For a while there, it looked like Brown was the lynchpin to the entire offensive line, as the Bills’ protection definitely improved once he began to play. Brown certainly struggled at times, especially with speed rushers, but those struggles are to be expected when dealing with a raw rookie seeing his first professional action. The Bills found themselves a steal in last year’s draft, and they’ve set up their offensive tackles through at least the next three seasons as a result.
Contract status for 2021: Signed; second year of four-year rookie contract ($903,931 cap hit; $236,793 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: 23 (24 on 5/6/2022)
Playing time: 11 games, 65 offensive snaps (5.43% of team total), 44 special teams snaps (10.14% of team total)
Key statistics: 1 sack allowed, 1 pressure allowed
If we were counting playoff stats, we’d also have to add Doyle’s one-yard touchdown grab against the New England Patriots in Buffalo’s 47-17 blowout win over their longtime rivals. However, we’re just counting the regular season, and while Doyle wasn’t called upon often, he certainly looked the part of the swing tackle when given limited opportunities. The Bills don’t have to make any big moves here as a result of great drafting by general manager Brandon Beane and company, as Buffalo’s top three offensive tackles are all draft picks of the team. Credit to former general manager Doug Whaley, as well, for executing the trade to draft Dion Dawkins in 2017. While Doyle spent some time as a healthy scratch this year, he should be a fixture over the next three years as a sixth lineman/swing tackle.
Contract status for 2021: Unsigned; UFA
Age: 27 (28 on 8/21/2022)
Playing time: 1 game, 1 offensive snap, 5 special teams snaps
Key statistics: N/A
If a team is relying on Bobby Hart to start games, that team is probably in trouble. If a team is just one injury away from Bobby Hart starting games, that team is in trouble. If a team has a player with Bobby Hart’s experience (83 games and 67 starts over his seven-year career) as the “break glass in case of emergency” tackle? That’s great roster design. Hart shouldn’t be a priority to re-sign, but the Bills could certainly do worse than a player with Hart’s experience as the healthy-scratch tackle on game days.
Contract status for 2021: Signed; second year of four-year contract ($12,710,294 cap hit; $10.785 million dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: 27 (28 on 4/26/2022)
Playing time: 16 games (15 starts), 1,089 offensive snaps (90.1% of team total), 78 special teams snaps (17.97% of team total)
Key statistics: 4 sacks allowed, 25 pressures allowed, 1 tackle for loss allowed, 9 penalties against (8 accepted), 80 penalty yards against
We already schno’ that Dion is entrenched as the left tackle, so we know he isn’t going anywhere. We also know that, thanks to Dawkins’s two separate bouts with COVID-19, he didn’t quite play as consistently as he is capable this year. Dawkins is a player that Buffalo can leave one-on-one with even the best pass rushers, which is a luxury that not all teams have. Knowing that quarterback Josh Allen’s blindside is protected for the next three years is a huge win for the franchise. Dawkins was named to his first career Pro Bowl this year. Expect more of those kinds of accolades in the future.
Contract status for 2021: Unsigned; status unclear
Age: 24 (25 on 6/8/2022)
Playing time: N/A
Key statistics: N/A
Ksiezarcyk is a Buffalo kid through and through, having played high school ball at West Seneca East before attending the University at Buffalo for college. Given that he has no NFL experience and fewer than three years of service time, I’d assume that he’s a restricted free agent, but he hasn’t ever appeared on an NFL roster. He’s probably a guy who the team will call in June about coming to a minicamp, and given his ties to the area, he seems like a good player to keep in mind come training camp.
I would expect this position to stay fairly close to static over the course of the next three years. Sure, there might be some moving parts on the back end of the roster—Brandon Beane is notorious for trading back-end offensive linemen for draft capital—but there’s nothing that needs to be done about the top three players on the depth chart until the 2025 season. The Bills may want to look into restructuring Dawkins’s contract to free some cap space, and they’ll probably sign a player or two for camp competition. Maybe one of those players will earn a roster spot, and maybe they’ll go back to the well for a player like Hart. Bills fans should familiarize themselves with a tackle group of Dawkins, Brown, and Doyle for the foreseeable future, though. Those guys aren’t going anywhere.