The Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle situation remains a precarious one going into the 2022 offseason. Stalwart veteran Star Lotulelei remains on the team, but is coming off a year shortened by COVID-19. He may not even be on the team come later in the offseason, as the Bills can save up to $4 million if he is designated a post-June cut. Meanwhile, Vernon Butler, Justin Zimmer and Harrison Phillips are all free agents at the position.
Even with the possibility that the team may re-resign Zimmer and Phillips, it will be a time of transition for the position. General manager Brandon Beane should be concerned with bringing in not just depth, but making a real, quality investment into the position—especially given Buffalo’s struggles against the run. Bringing in a youthful running mate to Ed Oliver for years to come makes a lot of sense at this juncture. Here are some of the prospects who would make sense for that kind of role.
Jordan Davis (Georgia)
Phidarian Mathis (Alabama)
Davis is just an absolutely massive specimen at 6’6” and 340 lbs. He’s surprisingly light on his feet and athletic for such a big player. Although he’s probably the best run-defender in the draft, you have to question how high he will go (late first round?) based on a lack of history as a pass rusher. Like a lot of Alabama prospects, Mathis may already have reached his potential, but on tape he is a technically sound, smart lineman who can step right in and start games.
More of a versatile hybrid defensive tackle, Wyatt isn’t a traditional two-gapping tackle. His explosion is exceptional for a guy of his size, which leads to penetration and busted plays. A Senior Bowl standout, Jones was stuck within a terrible UConn program. He has the look of a developmental player who just needs to be coached to become a starter. Farrell has been a stout defender for LSU for a long time, and he looks pretty twitchy moving forward for a big man. However, his lateral agility isn’t nearly as good.
John Ridgeway (Arkansas)
Derrick Tangelo (Penn State)
Noah Elliss (Idaho)
Kind of a lanky, rocked-up frame, Ridgeway has a lot teams can work with and you have to like his effort on the field. Still, his 6’6” frame means he often gets out-leveraged. A low-built, stocky defender, Tangelo was a late bloomer at Penn State and that lack of experience shows with some sloppy technique. A strong recruit who left Mississippi State to make his hay in FCS Idaho, Elliss nonetheless has the best nose tackle form in the class, but isn’t the best athlete.
- All-22 Review of Star Lotulelei’s 2021 season
- All-22 Review of Harrison Phillips’s 2021 season
- Salary cap ramifications of cutting Star Lotulelei
- Contract projection for Harrison Phillips
- In-house replacement options for free agent Harrison Phillips
- Veteran free agents who could help at 1-tech
- 2022 NFL Draft options at 1-tech
- Opinion: I like Harrison Phillips, but let’s upgrade the position
- Poll: Vote on your favorite 1-tech option for the 2022 offseason