The Buffalo Bills have plenty of options along the offensive line. The team has acquired multiple young players over the last year or two, building depth and versatility up front. On such a strong roster, it’s easy to look at an offensive line without many nationally known “elite” players and call it a weakness, but the Bills are banking on continuity within the system and within the unit to lead to a strong front five.
With the starting unit all but set, it’s the reserve spots that will see the greatest battle this summer. Buffalo will probably keep nine offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, with eight active on game days. Will the team go with veterans or youth? That’s yet to be seen.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of those young offensive linemen—a durable tackle who hails from a small school.
Name: Tanner Owen
Height/Weight: 6’5” 292 lbs
Age: Unknown (I’m guessing that he’s 24, since he graduated high school early in 2015. If he was slated to graduated in 2016, that puts his birth year in 1998.)
Experience/Draft: R; signed with Buffalo following the 2022 NFL Draft
College: NW Missouri State
Acquired: UDFA signing
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Owen signed a three-year contract this spring, a pact worth $2.575 million overall. For the 2022 season, Owen carries a cap hit of $710,000 if he makes the final roster. Since the Bills guaranteed him $30,000 in his contract, that’s the dead-cap charge Buffalo will carry if he’s released.
2021 Recap: Owen completed his college career by starting every game, which is exactly what he did throughout his whole time at NW Missouri State. He made 13 starts at left tackle, bringing his career number of starts to 52 at left tackle. His accolades on the season include being named AFCA Second-Team All-America, D2CCA First-Team All-America, Don Hansen Division II First-Team All-America, and First-Team All-MIAA.
Positional outlook: Owen is one of many tackles vying to back up Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown this year. Bobby Hart, Tommy Doyle, Alec Anderson, Luke Tenuta, and Derek Kerstetter are the others. Cody Ford and David Quessenberry are listed at both guard and tackle.
2022 Offseason: Owen is healthy and has participated in all OTAs to date.
2022 Season outlook: Owen is an intriguing prospect given his length (34 3/8” arms), strength (27 reps of the 225-lb bench press), and athleticism (34” vertical, 4.52-second 20-yard shuttle, 9’5” broad jump, 7.54-second three-cone drill). While he did not receive an invite to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, the numbers from his Pro Day would have put him in pretty elite company had he been at the event. Only four linemen benched more than he did, only three had a longer broad jump, just ten were quicker in the three-cone drill, and only seven were faster in the 20-yard shuttle. His vertical jump beat every offensive lineman at the Combine.
I don’t think he’s going to make the team this year, but if Buffalo can hide him on the practice squad and give him a year in a professional strength and conditioning program, he’s the kind of player who could be a real steal moving forward.