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2022 NFL Draft: Solidifying the offensive line

Buffalo needs to get younger along the interior

Outside of Mitch Morse’s position of center, the Buffalo Bills’ interior offensive line positions were in flux almost throughout the entirety of the 2021 season. Injuries and poor play forced Jon Feliciano, Ike Boettger and Cody Ford into the lineup at various times, before Daryl Williams and backup center Ryan Bates settled in as starters. This final combination was strong in pass protection, and managed to improve the results in the running game thanks to some adjustments in play calling.

However, with Bates as a restricted free agent, along with a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, may force a change along the interior. On the bright side, the team has a chance to draft another long-term answer along the interior and not have to go into the next season making those same on-the-fly adjustments. Below are just a few of the players the Bills might consider.

Tier I

Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa)
Zion Johnson (Boston College)
Kenyon Green (Texas A&M)

A center by trade at Iowa, there’s reason to think Linderbaum could handle being a guard in a zone scheme. Although his weight at 290 lbs isn’t ideal, he carries a solid, compact frame and really knows how to out-leverage defenders. Johnson doesn’t have elite size for a guard, but he’s a well-rounded player who plays with tenacity and has enough movement skills to play in either a zone or a man-scheme. Green took some snaps at tackle, but his ultimate fit is at guard where he’s powerful and surprisingly light on his feet for a player weighing 325 lbs. His technique and hands could use some work.

Tier II

Darian Kinnard (Kentucky)
Sean Rhyan (UCLA)
Jarrett Patterson (Notre Dame)
Jamaree Salyer (Georgia)

A lot of what was said about Green applies to Kinnard, who brings ideal height and weight to the table but has some bad habits to work out, including getting too high against the opposition. Rhyan lacks some movement ability, which is surprising given that he worked in Chip Kelly’s scheme. He brings solid power to the table and has very few other obvious weaknesses. Similar to Rhyan, Patterson also lacks some length but is clearly well-coached and knows how to make do with what he has. It’s an open question if he can transition from center to guard full time, however. Like a lot of Georgia linemen, Sayler is built like a squat rectangle. All about power and core strength, Sayler is a much better run blocker than pass protector, as he lacks quickness in pass sets.

Tier III

Cole Strange (UT-Chattanooga)
Thayer Munford (Ohio State)
Marquis Hayes (Oklahoma)

Strange has a tendency to lean into his blocks too much, and lacks girth. However, the latter didn’t stop him from being able to anchor during the one-vs-one drills at the Senior Bowl. A former left tackle, Munford hasn’t completely fit well as a guard and needs a long adjustment period. Even so, his ceiling doesn’t appear to be very high. Hayes brings a good attitude and strength to his role, but looks sluggish as a blocker and just isn’t a great athlete.

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