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Buffalo Bills Training Camp Preview, 2022: Offensive tackles are exciting

The Bills are pretty set at tackle if Spencer Brown doesn’t take a step back

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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 thinks they have their 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.

Dion Dawkins

Contract status: Entering second year of four-year contract ($12,710,294 cap hit; $10.785 million dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: Turned 28 on 4/26/2022
2021 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 2021 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 was capable in 2021. Dawkins is a player Buffalo can leave one-on-one with even the best pass rushers, which is a luxury 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 in 2021. Expect more of those kinds of accolades in the future.

Spencer Brown

Contract status: In second year of four-year rookie contract ($1,098,795 cap hit; $657,108 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: Turned 24 on 2/28/2022
2021 Playing time: 13 games (10 starts), 726 offensive snaps (60.6% of team total), 48 special teams snaps (11.1% of team total)
Key 2021 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 potentially set up their offensive tackles through at least the next three seasons as a result.

Tommy Doyle

Contract status: Entering second year of four-year rookie contract ($903,931 cap hit; $236,793 dead cap if cut or traded)
Age: Turned 24 on 5/6/2022
2021 Playing time: 11 games, 65 offensive snaps (5.43% of team total), 44 special teams snaps (10.14% of team total)
Key 2021 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.

Bobby Hart

Contract status: Signed a one-year veteran minimum contract this offseason
Age: 27 (28 on 8/21/2022)
2021 Playing time: 1 game, 1 offensive snap, 5 special teams snaps
Key 2021 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? The Bills could certainly do worse than a player with Hart’s experience as the healthy-scratch tackle on game days, but a practice squad spot is more likely, which is where he ended up last season.

David Quessenberry

Contract status: Signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract this offseason ($400,000 dead cap if traded or released)
Age: 31 (32 on 8/24/22)
2021 Playing time: 17 starts (99.92% of offensive snaps) for Tennessee Titans, 79 special teams snaps (17.25%)
Key 2021 statistics: 1 penalty for 10 yards, 7 sacks allowed

Quessenberry provides a reliable tackle/guard veteran option the Bills love to have on their roster. For the past two seasons it was Daryl Williams but this year it’s Quessenberry. It makes his path to the roster incredibly clear and he has a bunch of experience as a starter. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s active over Doyle on game days because of his position versatility.

Luke Tenuta

Contract status: Signed a four-year rookie deal this offseason ($152,684 dead cap if cut)
Age: 22 (23 on 9/2/2022)
2021 Playing time: 12 games, 11 starts at left tackle 1 at right tackle
Key 2021 statistics: All-ACC Honorable Mention

Buffalo’s sixth-round draft choice, Tenuta is no roster lock in a crowded room. The Bills have added a lot of competition here. At 6’9” and 322 lbs, he’s the largest player on Buffalo’s offensive line. He has the highest level of competition among the young OTs and he was drafted, so he has the inside track. His dad is a former player and coach, his brother is a coach, and his other brother is a pro baseball player, so it runs in the family. He’s likely a 53rd player on the roster or a top practice squad guy with a chance to be a worthwhile project.

Derek Kerstetter

Contract status: Signed a three-year UDFA contract this offseason ($60,000 signing bonus)
Age: 23 (24 on 9/30/2022)
2021 Playing time: 12 games and 12 starts for University of Texas (11 at right tackle)
Key 2021 statistics: N/A

The former Texas Longhorn was added as a UDFA this offseason. He played 58 games with 49 starts in college and earned All-Big 12 honors in his senior year. It seems like a path to the roster is a long shot with the experience of Doyle and Quessenberry, and the draft status of Tenuta. More likely is a spot on the practice squad with a potential call-up in the future.

Tanner Owen

Contract status: Signed a three-year UDFA contract this offseason ($30,000 signing bonus)
Age: N/A (The Bills don’t even list his age on their website)
2021 Playing time: Started all 52 games of his college career
Key 2021 statistics: Division II All-American

Coming from Division II Northwest State, Owen is going to have a big jump in competition. He’s second in the UDFA pecking order with a $30,000 signing bonus compared to Kerstetter’s $60,000. We really don’t know a whole lot about him, including how old he is. He is a very large human, at 6’5”, but could stand to add some weight to his frame. We know the Bills like large humans at tackle; every one of them on the roster is 6’5” or taller.

Alec Anderson

Contract status: Signed a three-year UDFA contract this offseason ($18,000 signing bonus)
Age: 22
2021 Playing time: 10 starts at offensive tackle for UCLA
Key 2021 statistics: N/A

Third in the UDFA pecking order is Anderson, we know more about him than Owen because he went to UCLA. He’s generally regarded as athletic and he also has experience at guard, which could make him an interesting practice squad stash for long-term development. At 305 lbs, he outweighs Owen by at least ten pounds and has more experience in a better program.

The Bills have a lot of players in this position group and likely too many to evaluate effectively. It wouldn’t surprise us if we saw a cut or two early in camp at tackle to get from nine down to a more manageable number.

At the top, the team is going to be looking for more consistency from Brown and the biggest competition will be for the third spot. Quessenberry’s experience gives him the inside track over Doyle.

After that, it comes down to roster battles. Do they keep four OTs or five? Last year it was Dawkins, Brown, and Doyle plus Daryl Williams who played both guard and tackle. Williams started at RT before kicking inside, so let’s say they kept four tackles last year. Can anyone crack the top four here onto the roster? What’s the hierarchy of the young players vs experience on the practice squad? Lots of questions to be answered at St. John Fisher.